Immigration and Bubbles
By Bryan Caplan
Vipul Naik called my attention to an interesting comment on immigration and bubbles:
Isn’t the bubble idea in opposition to the unlimited immigration idea?
Your bubble advice boils down to surrounding yourself as much as
possible with like minded people. Immigration means being surrounded by
people with different cultures and mindsets.
Those of us with incomes high enough can move to where immigrants can’t afford to live but what of other people?
1. The key lesson of the Bubble is that psychological separation from unpleasant experiences is a low-cost substitute for physical separation from unpleasant experiences. You don’t have to choose between (a) suffering at the hands of the people around you, or (b) moving to a mountaintop.
2. You could object: “You’re neglecting better options. Namely: (c) forcing the people around you to do as you wish, and (d) making people you don’t like move away from you.”
3. Like most people, I ignore (c) and (d) because they are not only impractical, but unjust. There’s no way I’m going to transform the surrounding population into econ nerds or drive the non-econ nerds away. And even if I could, I’d have no right to do so.
4. Unlike most people, I apply #3 to foreigners as well as U.S. citizens. Making people uncomfortable by your mere presence is not a crime, much less a crime for which exile to the Third World is a fitting punishment.
5. The comment implicitly assumes that I don’t want immigrants in my Bubble. I do. My wife is an immigrant. Many of my closest friends are immigrants. Many of the people I trade with are immigrants. If immigration restrictionists had their way, my Bubble would be a sadder, emptier place.
6. “Those of us with incomes high enough can move to where immigrants can’t afford to live but what of other people?” At risk of sounding sanctimonious: Immigrants are people, too. Many of them are escaping problems far worse than feeling uneasy because your neighbors don’t look like you.