Are Open Borders In Our Future?

Wondering what the world will look like in 2030, Politico asked “asked 15 of the smartest people we know for their most out-there predictions.” Charles Kenny expects that “the social change to come that will have the biggest impact on the global quality of life is a dramatic decline of discrimination by place of birth”:

At a time when the United States can’t pass immigration reform and Europe is seeing the rise of far-right parties, it might seem ridiculous to suggest that legal and social discrimination against those born in other countries could rapidly decline, but there are a bunch of forces working in favor of such an outcome. Economic convergence is reducing the income gap between rich and poor countries, while global values across a range of issues, from the importance of democracy and the environment to women’s rights, are converging as well. The West is rapidly aging as populations begin to decline, which will create considerable demand for imported labor from the rest of the world.

Globalization continues apace, and global problems, from climate change to the emergence of infectious diseases, are making it increasingly clear that we’re all in the same boat. The generation born in the new millennium is already far more global in outlook than those that came before, and the next generation will doubtless see themselves even more as world citizens.

It might be too much to hope that discrimination against place of birth will collapse as rapidly as discrimination against sexual orientation at birth has weakened in the United States, but if the change is only half as rapid, the world will be a far richer, healthier, secure and sustainable place in 30 years. As my Center for Global Development colleague Michael Clemens has amply demonstrated, opening borders is a trillion-dollar opportunity waiting to be grasped—and the next generation could be the one to grasp it.