A Case against Taxes and Quotas on High-Skill Emigration

A Case against Taxes and Quotas on High-Skill Emigration. Center for Global Development. Michael Clemens. May 1, 2014.

Skilled workers have a rising tendency to emigrate from developing countries, raising fears that their departure harms the poor. To mitigate such harm, researchers have proposed a variety of policies designed to tax or restrict high-skill migration. Those policies have been justified as Pigovian regulations to raise efficiency by internalizing externalities, and as non-Pigovian regulations grounded in equity or ethics. The paper challenges both sets of justifications, arguing that Pigovian regulations on skilled emigration are inefficient and non-Pigovian regulations are inequitable and unethical. It concludes by discussing a different class of policy intervention that, in contrast, has the potential to raise welfare. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 45 pages, 585.4 KB].

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