The Ethics of Economists

I have an article in TCS today on why economists tend to be more in favor of immigration than the typical person.  Surprisingly, the ethics of economists may be part of the answer!  Here’s an excerpt:

Economists…tend not to distinguish between us
and them. We look instead for policies that at least in principle make
everyone better off. Policies that make us better off at the price of
making them even worse off are for politicians, not economists.

Immigration makes immigrants much better off. In the normal debate
this fact is not considered to be of great importance — who cares
about them? But economists tend not to count some people as worth more
than others, especially not if the difference is something so random as
where a person was born.

Economists do sometimes distinguish between the rich and the poor,
but high school dropouts in the United States are rich compared to
low-skilled immigrants from Mexico. It’s a peculiar kind of ethics that
says we should greatly penalize very poor immigrants in order to
marginally benefit relatively rich Americans (peculiar at least if one
is not stuck in the Robbers Cave).


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