Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 20 No. 2 (Spring 2006)


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People Flows in Globalization

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Freeman, Richard B. 2006. "People Flows in Globalization." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2): 145-170.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.20.2.145


The policy debate over globalization in the past decade has largely bypassed the international mobility of labor. Restrict trade and cries of protectionism resound. Suggest linking labor standards to trade and it's protectionism in disguise. Limit capital flows and the International Monetary Fund is on your back. But restrict people flows? That's just an accepted exercise of national sovereignty! During the last few decades, when most countries reduced barriers to trade in goods and services and liberalized financial capital markets, most also sought to limit immigration. In this essay, I examine what we know about the causes and consequences of immigration. I argue that people flows are fundamental to creating a global economy and that the interplay among immigration, capital and trade is essential to understanding the way globalization affects economies. I consider ways to reduce barriers to immigration that could improve the well-being of workers around the world.

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Freeman, Richard B.


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