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Walls and Fences: A Journey Through History and Economics

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  • Vernon, Victoria
  • Zimmermann, Klaus F.

Abstract

Throughout history, border walls and fences have been built for defense, to claim land, to signal power, and to control migration. The costs of fortifications are large while the benefits are questionable. The recent trend of building walls and fences signals a paradox: In spite of the anti-immigration rhetoric of policymakers, there is little evidence that walls are effective in reducing terrorism, migration, and smuggling. Economic research suggests large benefits to open border policies in the face of increasing global migration pressures. Less restrictive migration policies should be accompanied by institutional changes aimed at increasing growth, improving security and reducing income inequality in poorer countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Vernon, Victoria & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2020. "Walls and Fences: A Journey Through History and Economics," GLO Discussion Paper Series 330 [pre.], Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:330pre
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    1. Kamwela, V.K. & van Bergeijk, P.A.G., 2020. "The border walls of (de)globalization," ISS Working Papers - General Series 651, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Walls; fences; defense; security; international migration; mobility;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • F66 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Labor
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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