Open Borders and the Welfare State

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Milton Friedman said that you can’t have a welfare state and open borders, but Alex Tabarrok disagrees:

What we think of as the welfare state encompasses many different programs, many of which are not handouts. Social Security for example is mostly a forced savings program. For these types of insurance programs there is no problem at all as, for the most part, a person has to work and pay into the program to get money out of the program. For programs like schooling there is also no problem–even if the schooling is provided free to immigrant children–because the schooling leads to higher wages later in life which are taxed. In these cases, the immigrant children are really just receiving a loan which they will have to pay back from their own earnings later in life. The story for basic health is similar. Thus, the only cases where there is a worry about excessive transfers from citizens to immigrants is in pure handouts or health benefits to say the elderly. In these cases, I would simply say that such benefits are not available to immigrants or only available after five years or some such time period.

Commenter Peter Schaeffer notes that the fiscal impact of Middle-Eastern immigration has been extensively studied in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, etc.:

A report just came out in Norway showing that each Middle-Eastern immigrant costs taxpayers $700,000 (net).


  1. Handle says:

    Schaeffer left a few dozen, data-rich and utterly devastating comments in that thread. I’d love to see one of those guys try to take on Schaeffer in a debate, but they’d never sign up for the predictable humiliation.

    Open Borders folks do a disservice to their cause and otherwise respectable reputations when they reveal themselves to be completely willing to abandon any semblance of intellectual rigor or credibility when it comes to this particular issue. Who wants to associate with a movement full of stuff like that?

  2. Bill says:

    Watch John Oliver as he delivers, with characteristic verve, every last liberal shibboleth on the wonders of immigration in this segment from his show Last Week Tonight on migrants and refugees.

    He’s clueless. I especially like the part where he quotes from a NY Times editorial encouraging unlimited immigration, but fails to read from the overwhelmingly negative (and information-filled) comments from NY Times readers.

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