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How much you earn depends largely on where you live

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The countries with highest poverty and social unrest are those with high birthrate. While economic aid provided by the developed world has slashed death-rate by infectious diseases, pressure from the religious right ensures birth control remains out of reach. And so their populations grow, forever outpacing the country's resources.

Asia has made the greatest progress because it slashed it's birthrate and sent the women to paid work, greatly increasing their prosperity.


There is a curious parallel to the slave trade in the bad old days, when it was clearly recognised that low-cost labor was essential to production. Then, it was so important as to require collecting unwilling slaves. Now, when there is still a requirement for low-wage unskilled labor which rich Americans will not supply, instead of bringing unwilling slaves we are trying to banish illegal immigrants.
Somehow I think that should raise a laugh.


There should be an international supranational institution that provides a free three months course in "why the rule of law is good" and "effective administration" that is open for every official that has been elected according to some very basic democratic standards for offices above a certain threshold (let's say majors of cities with more than 10000 inhabitants). After election but before taking over their office, they would go to a nice campus (there would be several globally spread out) with free boarding where they learn the basics of effective administration, corruption prevention, basic human rights etc and have a chance to network with similar elected officials from other countries. All that would be paid for by rich countries, similar to the UN or other international organizations.

I wonder whether that would change anything.


For some time now I have been wondering if The Economist has moved to a parody publication. Rawls cited as an economic authority?

B. Hotchkiss

Immigration principally helps those who move, leaving the bulk of their compatriots behind. Free movement of capital, together with free trade, while causing some disruption in richer countries, seems a better way to try to bring poor countries closer to the level of the rich, helping all of the inhabitants of those countries, not just those who can emigrate.


“Simply moving to a country with the rule of law, good infrastructure, sophisticated companies and so forth—ie, a rich country—made the Haitians dramatically more productive.”
So true.
But, pace TE, Haitians and other third world residents moving to the USA or to first world countries would soon degrade our cultures leaving us to be poorer and less productive, a net loss and not likely to endear Rawls to me or of folks like me who have made the buildings square and the medications therapeutic as the minimum standard.

Might not a more productive formula be for investors, adventurers, entrepreneurs and those who dream of “building the future” along with appropriate security measures, to move to the “developing” world, to start new enterprises, employ, train, inspire locals with habits of discipline, thrift, and, let’s say it, greed.

Some might call it colonialism. The sad truth is that many of the hellholes (I did not say s--tholes) were richer, more peaceful and hopeful under the former colonial powers, and returning to this model is more likely to be satisfying for the majority, while of course infuriating the nationalistic and racist minority.


1. I see no mention of COL being taken into account. $1/day in USA vs $1/day in Tibet are not equivalent.
2. Regardless, mass immigration of the poor to rich countries is about the worst solution I can think of to world's poverty. It's the same logic that says house the homeless. Classic college student response to social issues: let's cure symptoms and not worry about the cause!

Undersigned - an immigrant from a poor country to USA.


Perhaps instead of Immigration we should be advocating better economic policies for the poorer economies. Polices that promote growth and prosperity.


Utterly ridiculous.
No, the answer is not to bring all of the world's poor into rich countries, it's to change the infrastructure of poor countries so they afford the same opportunities for productivity. Changing immigration policies of rich countries doesn't even make a recognizable dent in global poverty.


What a crock of shit!

People in poor countries make less because their crooked elites have the power to pay them less.

Accepting people in from corrupt countries enables those elites to continue exploiting their own people.

David USA

The logic here is legit, but too limited. Following this logic, 99.99% of Africa should emigrate to the US. Yet it seems obvious that would destroy the US, at least in the short term. Borders exist because of real world concerns, but this article ignores the real world in favor of a purely academic point.

Youngjoe Loh

So, by Rawis' and the author's reasoning, someone who holds a winning lottery ticket should be willing to sell it at a modest markup to the purchase price? For example, someone who won $40 million on a $2 ticket should be willing to sell the winning ticket at $10, which I would think most would do before winning tickets are determined?