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The Law and Economics of Immigration Policy


  • Michael J. Trebilcock


This article notes dramatic differences in growth over recent decades in the international movement of goods, services, and capital, on the one hand, and people, on the other, and also notes that there appear to be substantial potential global welfare gains from increased personal mobility, thus raising important positive and normative puzzles about the relatively restrictive nature of many countries' immigration policies. It points out that most receiving countries apply quotas to family class immigrants, independent (economic) immigrants, and offshore refugee claimants. These policies are critiqued from economic, communitarian, and liberal perspectives, and the case is developed, at least from economic and liberal perspectives, for much more liberal immigration policies. However, it recognizes that fiscally induced immigration is a legitimate concern and argues for a mandatory private market insurance regime to cover the risk of claims by immigrants against most noncontributory social programs for a minimum period of time, comparing this proposal with other mechanisms for controlling fiscally induced immigration. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael J. Trebilcock, 2003. "The Law and Economics of Immigration Policy," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 271-317, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:5:y:2003:i:2:p:271-317

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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriele Orcalli, 2007. "Constitutional choice and European immigration policy," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 1-20, March.

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