Immigration Article of the Day: The Economic Case for Liberalized Immigration Policies

by Kevin Johnson

The Economic Case for Liberalized Immigration Policies by Howard Changin The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics and Economics of Immigration (Sahar Akhtar ed., Routledge Press, expected 2024)


This chapter outlines the economic case for liberalized immigration policies. First, this chapter assumes the objective is to promote global welfare, giving equal weight to the interests of each person. This chapter then relaxes this assumption and turns to the question of the national interest, giving priority to the welfare of natives in the country of immigration. Liberalized admissions improve social welfare by allowing immigrant workers and the economies that employ them to enjoy gains from trade in the labor market, which promote global welfare and advance the economic interests of natives in the country of immigration. To the extent that immigration raises concerns about environmental protection, the segregation of cultural communities, the distribution of income among natives, or fiscal concerns, there are less restrictive alternatives to immigration restriction that are more narrowly tailored to the problems in question. These alternatives do not sacrifice gains from trade in the labor market and thus avoid the collateral damage caused by immigration restrictions. Furthermore, immigrants may enjoy other important gains from migration, including freedom from persecution or family reunification, and natives enjoy other gains from trade with immigrants outside the labor market.

This post originally appeared on Immigration Prof Blog Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Kevin Johnson is Dean, Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law, and Professor of Chicana/o Studies. He joined the UC Davis law faculty in 1989 and was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1998. Johnson became Dean in 2008. He has taught a wide array of classes, including immigration law, civil procedure, complex litigation, Latinos and Latinas and the law, and Critical Race Theory. In 1993, he was the recipient of the law school's Distinguished Teaching Award.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.