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Article: Wage Competition and the Special-Obligations Challenge to More Open Borders

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Abstract: According to the special-obligations challenge to the justice argument for more open borders, immigration restrictions to wealthier polities are justified because of special obligations owed to disadvantaged compatriots negatively impacted by the immigration of low-skilled foreign workers. We refute the special-obligations challenge by refuting its empirical premise and draw out the normative implications of the empirical evidence for border policies. We show that immigration to wealthier polities has negligible impact on domestic wages and that only previous cohorts of immigrants are adversely affected. The special-obligations challenge therefore succeeds only if special obligations owed to previous immigrants justify closing borders to further immigration; we argue that they do not.

Photo: Mulberry Street, NYC, c. 1900, Library of Congress

(c) 2014 Arash Abizadeh, Manish Pandey, Sohrab Abizadeh

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