Open Borders and Brain Drain: a Moral Dimension

Philosophia: International Journal of Philosophy (Philippine e-journal) 22 (2):168-185 (2021)
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The moral debate about open borders needs to go beyond focusing on the interests of the migrant versus the interests of the hosting state and its original citizens to focusing more on the interests of the countries that migrants are leaving. I hint at the long-term insufficiency of so-called economic remittances to the development of migrant-sending states when compared to domiciled skilled labor. But most importantly, I identify the irrelevance of current empirical research on brain drain to an open borders scenario. I hint at the potential scale of brain drain in such a scenario, and I raise a moral question about the propriety of proposing open borders with a focus on the wellbeing of the individual migrant if such a focus is determined to be at the expense of the wellbeing of the migrant’s home country. I add that a preamble to opening borders would be to significantly address gross global economic disparities, world poverty, and political injustices.



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