Episode 436: If Economists Controlled The Borders

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A Saudia airlines crew arrives at the international arrivals hall at Washington Dulles International Airport on February 6, 2017 in Dulles, Virginia.
From

A version of this episode originally ran in 2013.

There's a lot about U.S. immigration policy that doesn't add up, that just doesn't make sense. It's much more than who gets to enter and who doesn't and from where. There's a mix of visa types, quotas, preferences and incentives adding up to a messy tangle of laws that make it all so complicated that both political parties have tons to complain about.

What about economists? We look at immigration through the eyes of economists in hopes of finding a little clarity. It's still messy.

On today's show, we ask three economists: What would the perfect system look like? If we could scrap the system we currently have and replace it with anything, what would it look like?

Among the answers:

  • Let in lots more doctors and engineers.
  • Auction off immigration slots to the highest bidders.
  • Open the gates, and let everyone in.

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