Review of Gary Becker’s Radical Solution to Immigration Issue

Topics: Immigration, Immigration to the United States, Illegal immigration Pages: 6 (1841 words) Published: May 6, 2013
Review of Gary Becker’s Radical solution to immigration issue


Everywhere in the world, there are large sum of people willing to move to more developed country. Thus, immigration is always one of popular topics in the world. Those who seek to immigrate legally face huge barriers to entry in certain countries. Entry barriers have various forms like immigration quota, skills and language proficiency tests, business and investment threshold, and so on. Overall, “more people want to move to rich countries than are able to”. For these receiving countries, most of them are well-developed countries, especially for those countries facing population declines and labor shortage, the presence of immigration contributes to current expenditure and the gross national production growth, and also serves as a potential source for skilled workers to fill the skill shortages in labor market and changing the demographic structure of society. How to make appropriate immigration policy to attract most desirable people? Gary Becker, a Nobel laureate who pioneered the application of economics to areas such as discrimination, crime and the family, proposed a “radical solution” to this problem. His idea is simple but quite brilliant. Mr. Becker argued that immigration policy should involve the market mechanisms and simply using economic principles such as price to allocate visas. For examples, auctioning immigrant visas or selling the right to migrate at a desirable price that called forth a desired number of migrants. The paper will make a quick review about Gary Becker’s point of view, then discuss some main points and finally give a conclusion.

Gary Becker’s point of view

In the book entitled The Challenge of Immigration: A Radical Solution, Gary Becker argued that immigration issue could be considered as excess demand. It went out of balance just because of the absence of a price that would match supply and demand. To solve these problems, he suggested Governments could use economic principles to allocate visas. Thus the visa would be allocated to those who desired the immigration most through market mechanisms. As a result, both the successful migrants and the government of receiving country would be better off. For the successful migrants, they can enjoy the privilege they had paid for and don’t need to worry about a set of complicated visa requirement and barriers. For the governments of receiving country, they would have a very strong tool to control the quantity of immigrants. They even can adjust the price annually according to labor market situation. Moreover, more government revenue would fund the public finances.

Throughout history, in spite of the economic growth in developing countries, there are still huge differences in income levels between developing and richer countries. Meanwhile, those developed countries suffer from low fertility, especially countries in Europe. This is part of the reasons lead to the fact that net migration has grown dramatically in recent years. In late 19th century, to deal with huge migration flows, the US government imposed harsh restrictions and those restrictions always involve bureaucratic controls. Given the extent of welfare states in countries with higher incomes, it would be difficult to go back to a policy of free migration. Becker believes migrants would take advantage of an open-borders policy to scrounge off the state.

According to Gary Becker’s point of view, there would be many advantages to charge immigration fee. This method would be much more efficient in controlling economic migration than the use of quotas and other bureaucratic systems of control. It could ensure those most attracted active migrants who had a real commitment to the country enter the US to fill the skill shortages. This fee could also be used to reduce other taxes. The US government would gain $50 billion revenue if they charge $50,000 for the right to immigrate. Even for people from...
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