Delay political reform

See also brain drain

This is an argument against open borders from the point of view of the immigrant-sending countries. The argument is that if people are free to leave, then this reduces the chance that people will revolt against, or try to reform, corrupt political institutions. Rather, those who are in the best position to reform political institutions are likely to also be those who are in the best position to exit.

A slight variant of this argument is offered by Prakash here:

Remittances should be treated as a special subset because they give the impression to the immigrant sending countries that their system is more sustainable than it actually is.

Remittances give the immigrant sending country a great boost (maybe even 100%) of the person’s income without any political/economic reform.

To give a concrete example, the stoppage of the remittance flow from the number of people living in the gulf after the first gulf war, prompted India’s economic reforms. Even after seeing the results of these reforms, Indian politicians refuse to take the next few steps, now that the forex situation is manageable. It is like we live from crisis to crisis.

How many years before might have we started the economic reforms, in the absence of the malayali remittances? I don’t know.

How much longer might have we had to wait for economic reform, had the gates of USA, Canada and Australia been even a little wider? I don’t know.

But I can quite confidently say that the gain through reform has been greater than the one through the remittance channel.

Some believe that the opposite is true, namely, that open borders help improve political institutions through the mechanisms of exit and competitive government.