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Shulman has carried out investigations related to migration liberalization as a potentially promising strategic cause for philanthropists. Shulman is on friendly terms with some of the Open Borders people and an active participant at Open Borders Action Group, but is not formally affiliated with the Open Borders website.
A post titled A Long-run perspective on strategic cause selection and philanthropy co-written by Shulman with Nick Beckstead, November 5, 2013 identified migration liberalization as one of five strategic causes worth investigating (the list was not intended to be comprehensive):
What it is: By “immigration reform,” we mean loosening immigration restrictions in rich countries with stronger political institutions, especially for people who are migrating from poor countries with weaker political institutions. We include both efforts to allow more high-skill immigration and efforts to allow more immigration in general. Some people to talk to in this area include Michael Clemens, Lant Pritchett, and others at the Center for Global Development. Fwd.us and the Krieble Foundation are two examples of organizations working in this area.
Why we think it is promising: Many individual workers in poor countries could produce much more economic value and better realize their potential in other ways if they lived in rich countries, meaning that much of the world’s human capital is being severely underutilized. This claim is unusually well supported by basic economic theory and the views of a large majority of economists. Many concerns have been raised, but we think the most plausible ones involve political feasibility and political and cultural consequences of migration.
Shulman has made a number of blog posts about migration in the course of his investigation of migration liberalization.
- Upward and downward biases in the “double world GDP” estimates of the gains of open borders, January 26, 2014, referenced at the double world GDP page.
- How migration liberalization might eliminate most absolute poverty, May 27, 2014, linked at the end of poverty page.
- Migration levies and unskilled labor mobility in Singapore, May 7, 2014, referenced in Nathan Smith’s blog post Make More Singapores, May 13, 2014.
- What does migration to the United Arab Emirates tell us about labor mobility?, May 14, 2014.
- An earlier post (before the strategic cause selection post): Open borders in (at least) one (developed) country, July 4, 2013.
Shulman also participated in a conversation with Howard Adelman, academic and activist on issues related to refugees in Canada. The other participant in the conversation was Nick Beckstead. The conversation is listed on Nick Beckstead’s conversations page.