What the Swiss Vote Really Shows
By Bryan Caplan
The Swiss just passed a referendum to restrict immigration from the EU. Tyler thinks this shows that open borders is a hopeless cause. When immigration gets too high, public opinion naturally turns against immigration.
In my view immigration has gone well for
Switzerland, both economically and culturally, and I am sorry to see this
happen, even apart from the fact that it may cause a crisis in their relations
with the European Union. That said, you can take 27% as a kind of
benchmark for the limits of immigration in most or all of today’s wealthy
countries. I believe that as you approach a number in that range, you get
But there’s a major problem with Tyler’s story: Swiss anti-immigration voting was highest in the places with the least immigrants! This is no fluke. In the U.S., anti-immigration sentiment is highest in the states with the least immigration – even if you assume that 100% of immigrants are pro-immigration.
The natural inference to draw, then, is the opposite of Tyler’s: The main hurdle to further immigration is insufficient immigration. If countries could just get over the hump of status quo bias, anti-immigration attitudes would become as socially unacceptable as domestic racism. Instead of coddling nativism with gradualism, we can, should, and must peacefully destroy nativism with abolitionism.