Saturday, January 05, 2013

"Open borders make the eventual abolition of the welfare state imaginable"

Thanks to blogger BenSix in the comments for this, from libertarian economist Bryan Caplan.

(Graphs from Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote's "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?")

Caplan thinks that the end of the journey is not only possible, but desirable. Key paragraphs :

"Diversity undermines solidarity. People don't mind paying high taxes to support people "like them." But free money for "the other" leads to resentment and political pushback.

That's exactly what we're seeing in the UK, and why Osborne and Shapps may get away politically with a real-terms benefits cut. They noted the outrage among working people in 2011 when benefits rose by 5% at a time of static wages.

If you're a social democrat, this implies a tragic trade-off between social justice for natives and social justice for potential immigrants. But if you're a libertarian, the opposite is true. The welfare state doesn't make open borders impossible. It's open borders that makes the eventual abolition of the welfare state imaginable."

Caveat - the first graph is based on 1990-1998 figures, the second on 1998 figures. Ireland and the UK, for example, are considerably more diverse than they were then. And the US is a lot more Hispanic than it was in 1998.

UPDATE - another academic blogger takes issue with Prof. Caplan  - no comfort here, I fear:

" In particular, let me stress once again that even if open borders makes the majority population more anti-government, after a while their preferences will not matter, since they will inevitably become a minority of voters. "
 But at some stage the money runs out, no matter what the voters want.

Prof Caplan responds - no comfort again :

"The claim isn't that open borders will "destroy" solidarity or the welfare state, but merely that open borders will undermine both.  And while free-marketers may well agree that some degree of solidarity is good, it's also hard for free-marketers to deny that current levels of solidarity are excessive.  Solidarity stands in the way of free-market reforms in pensions, education, health care, taxation, agricultural policy, and much more."
 Can't say we've not been warned.


Anonymous said...

I think the problem is not racial diversity the problem is that the welfare state in the UK is crazy.
People who don't work get housing workers can only dream off.
It has to stop.

Ed D said...


See here for a pretty convincing rebuttal of Caplan's argument:


"In particular, let me stress once again that even if open borders makes the majority population more anti-government, after a while their preferences will not matter, since they will inevitably become a minority of voters."

Given that 40% of the babies born in England last year were not "white British", I reckon the continued existence of the welfare state is just about the last thing you need to be worrying about.

Anonymous said...
A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.

Ryan said...

I'm not sure that UK people's disengagement with broader society is related to immigration per se. I note that there is far more resentment toward the "underclass" than towards Mo Farah, for instance. Mo Farah appears to be accepted as "one of us" by the natives despite having been born in Somalia and being a devout Muslim.

UK natives are consistently viewing the underclass as a de-humanised sub-culture.I suspect most Brits would be comfortable with the Swedish approach that existed until the 70s - i.e. no benefits without sterilisation.

Of course, many of our growing numbers of immigrants do slip straight into the underclass, more or less by design, and to that extent are despised by the majority population. It is no longer sufficient to blame the white middle-class for lack of opportunity for immigrants since it has been clear for years that the white middle-class will hold out a hand to people of all cultures for those willing to grasp it, so those that are left behind in the cess-pool sub-cultures of our inner cities are there by their own actions. They are in their comfort zone.

The native population is of course moving ever further away from the sub-culture cess-pools, allowing those cess-pools to be back-filled with ever more members of the underclass.

Given the cultural and geographic separation of the culture that is paying for the benefits and the culture that is taking the benefits, it is clear that this re-distribution of wealth cannot be expected to continue much longer. It is no more supportable than the people of Cheltenham being told to pay 50% of their income to the people of a similar sized town in Pakistan in the interest of "fairness".

It seems to me, meanwhile, that the native UK population remain quite generous in their time and wealth to their actual neighbours - it is simply that they have moved away from neighbours they don't like - i.e the inner-city underclass as they see it. Those neighbourhoods which are "diverse" in the UK are increasingly devoid of any native people and are populated by people's from cultures where being neighbourly was never a strong part of the culture anyway. In these cultures "family" easily trumps a broader responsibility to society, if indeed there is any sense of responsibility at all.

On top of this we are forced to elect a political class, mostly sourced from independent schools, that live lives totally detached from the majority and they find themselves reliant on information from newspapers like the Guardian living in a political world of their own imagination, also divorced from reality. This cannot continue and the advancement of smaller political parties is testament to this.

Anonymous said...

Libertarians are infected with the same evil as Marxists. They venerate an ideology over humanity. When humanity and ideology conflict humanity must be hammered into conformity.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is not racial diversity, the problem is that the welfare state in the UK is crazy

The problem most certainly IS racial. Non-whites make up a disproportionate slice of those on benefits and such like and they have done since the advent of mass 3rd world immigration. And you can see similar things across the western world. Thus race plays a major part.

Both mainstream left and right are more than happy to promote the fiction that this is not the case, that its grasping white scroungers who are the real issue or that this problem exhibits no racial differences.

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