Please forgive my delay in responding to Anonymous1’s and Anonymous2’s very good points. After their well written and well thought out responses I see that I have my work cut out for me. I’ll start by putting context to some of our concerns.
I’d like to first add context to Anonymous1’s point that “…those on the margins of our society will assuredly lose”. Specifically, Caplan (pg. 7) makes the following point:
Under open borders, low-skilled wages are indeed likely to fall, but most Americans are not low-skilled. Over 87 percent of Americans over the age of 25 are high-school graduates (U.S. Census Bureau 2011). Most of the world’s would-be immigrants are, at best, substitutes for American high-school drop-outs.
Mainstream estimates confirm this point: immigration has little or no effect on overall wages…
I think it is safe to say that that there will be some effect on wages to Americans who are high-school drop-outs, and that these are the “margins of our society [who] will assuredly lose.” Caplan (pg. 8) does us another favor by noting the effects immigration has had on low skilled workers:
On standard assumptions, immigration from 1990–2000 reduced low-skilled wages by 1.2 percent; on Peri-Sparber’s more realistic assumptions, the hit was only 0.3 percent. Using a similar approach, Ottaviano and Peri (2008: 59) conclude that immigration from 1990–2006 raised average native wages by 0.6 percent.
I concede that this is not entirely good news. On “standard assumptions”, the poorest among us had their wages reduced by about 1.2 percent due to immigration, which is bad. But this is a 1 percent reduction over the course of an entire decade! Moreover, some of the “standard assumtions” are very flawed. Specifically, Caplan makes the point that it is wrong to “…[assume] that native and foreign workers with the same educational credentials have exactly the same skills” (Caplan, pg. 8). This assumption is empirically important, since it “…cuts the estimated effect of immigration on low-skilled natives’ wages by 75 percent” (Caplan, pg. 8). That’s how they get the revised 0.3 percent estimate noted above.
Regardless of the estimates that we use the conclusion is that there is a small reduction in native wages. Even knowing these figures, some might think that it is far from obvious whether we should adopt an open borders policy. For others, the cost-benefit analysis is straight forward: the benefit of removing millions from poverty outweighs the cost of a small decrease in natives’ wages. For Anonymous1, this 1.2 percent reduction in wages is far too much, as he is concerned “for my own personal well-being and that of the people I personally know, love and respect.” (Seriously? You’re not even low skilled.) To address Anonymous1’s concerns I think we can reach some sort of compromise. If we coupled an open borders policy with an admission fee or higher taxes on the immigrants, we could use the revenues to compensate those who are adversely affected by such a policy. I think this is far more humane than barring the poorest people in the world from our prosperous society.
So far I have only addressed the effects of migration on the U.S., but Anonymous2 is concerned with the “consequences on public infrastructure in the receiving area, as well as the blight experienced by the non-migrants left behind.” I’m not so worried about the effects immigration has on public infrastructure here in the First World. Why? Two reasons: (1) I’m much more concerned about poverty! (2) as the economy of the U.S. grows, we can use the increased tax revenues to finance any repairs or improvements to our public infrastructure. The tax revenues will surely be there, as Anonymous2 points out that “…Anonymous0, channeling Clemens, correctly shows that in fact, GDP in these receiving economies will grow…” and the government definitely takes its cut in growing GDP.
This leaves me with one remaining point to address: “the blight experienced by the non-migrants left behind”. Clemens (pg. 89) has the following to say about this:
An increase in migration … leads to a relatively small decrease in the wage rate for the high-income country, a relatively small rise in the wage rate for the low-income country, and a large rise in income for the migrants themselves. (My emphasis)
I’ve already quantified the small decrease in wages in high-income countries, but I won’t quantify the small increase in wages in low-income countries. Why? Because any ensuing increase in the wage rate does not strike me as “… the blight experienced by the non-migrants left behind.” Non-migrant wages rise because of supply and demand, as reduced competition for work implies higher wages. This is the same principle we use to note that more competition for jobs in the First World leads to lower wages. But the majority of those that would migrate here would be low-skilled and most of us are not low-skilled, thus, wages for the vast majority of Americans would barely fall. For those of us that experience falling wages, there are other ways to help offset this.
To conclude, an open borders policy will help lift millions out of poverty while the vast majority of us will see little or no negative effect on our wages. Of course everyone will not be among the ‘winners’. Low-skilled natives will be adversely affected by such a policy. But there are more humane ways to address these concerns than restricting access to our prosperous society. I mentioned additional taxes on immigrants as a possible solution. Migrants would still benefit, as a large increase in their wages would greatly offsets any extra taxes. Moreover, non-migrants in the Third World will see their wages increase. This is without considering how migrants often send money back to their loved ones in their home country. This is without considering how increased GDP is a good thing. This is without considering how immigration restrictions keeps those in the Third World trapped in a life of poverty, often living under oppressive and corrupt governments.
The conclusion is obvious: let us open our borders.