Nobel Laureate Publicly Disavows Previous Pro-Immigration Stance

While some academics seem to ignore evidence that does not jibe with their preconceived assertions, there is occasional evidence of an open-minded expert willing to reverse a once-deeply held opinion.

That was apparently the case recently when Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton revealed his change of heart on the issue of immigration.

The Princeton University professor acknowledged that he “used to subscribe to the near consensus among economists that immigration to the US was a good thing.”

Upon taking a closer look at the long-term trends, however, he was forced to reconsider his conclusion.

Citing evidence dating back 150 years, he wrote: “Inequality was high when America was open, was much lower when the borders were closed, and rose again post Hart-Celler (the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965) as the fraction of foreign-born people rose back to its levels in the Gilded Age.”

He paid particularly close attention to the decades between the 1920s and 1980s, during which immigration was limited and national prosperity flourished.

“It has also been plausibly argued that the Great Migration of millions of African Americans from the rural South to the factories in the North would not have happened if factory owners had been able to hire the European migrants they preferred.”

Of course, Deaton is only one example out of countless individuals who have adopted a more cynical view of open borders in light of the flood of undocumented migrants into the U.S. and nations across Europe in recent years.

In addition to the toll imposed on the U.S. through unchecked immigration, Deaton also embraced a newly critical stance on the topic of free trade.

“I also no longer defend the idea that the harm done to working Americans by globalization was a reasonable price to pay for global poverty reduction because workers in America are so much better off than the global poor,” he wrote.

Acknowledging that he “seriously underthought” his argument defending such efforts on ethical grounds, he concluded: “We certainly have a duty to aid those in distress, but we have additional obligations to our fellow citizens that we do not have to others.”