Is a Goldilocks approach to global labor mobility a high value investment?

This presentation will make three points. First, at the margin relaxation of the current constraints on the mobility of low skilled labor produce more gains for the poor (and hence more gains to human welfare) than any other in situ individualized interventions—but orders of magnitude. Second, these constraints on labor mobility in rich countries are not driven by economic considerations (the gains are positive for rich countries) but by more narrowly political considerations. Third, a Goldilocks “just right” approach to international cooperation on labor mobility based on a pluri-lateral coalition of the willing may create space to move forward on this issue that could succeed in expanding labor mobility where “too hot” (pushing for binding reciprocal multi-lateral agreements) and “too cold” (the existing multi-lateral efforts) would fail. If this is so (and only the last point is really debatable) then this would make investing in the “public good” of the Goldilocks approach a high priority for global philanthropy.