argument top image

< Back to question Is a world without any borders a good idea? Show more Show less

Nation-states maintain borders for safety, maintaining political jurisdiction. Yet, some forms of open borders exist between nation-states: the Schengen Agreement in the European Union, borders between India and Nepal, Ireland and the U.K., and the CA4 Border Control Agreement in Central America. Most nation-states maintain strict border controls, restricting travel between countries and barring entry to migrants. Millions of people risk their lives trying to cross borders into other countries. Some are fleeing violence and war; others are looking for better economic opportunities or to be reunited with family members. Borders protect but they also actively promote death and suffering, as seen in the strategic placement of border patrol along the US-Mexico borderlands. What are the possibilities of a world without borders?

Yes, we should abolish all borders Show more Show less

Borders—and border control—cause unneeded suffering, promote discrimination, and legally motivate border control to kill people seeking safety or better economic freedom. Borders should be abolished not just for the sake of human rights but also for improving countries' economies.
(1 of 2) Next position >

Economic Case: Opening borders would help the world's economy

According to some economists, opening the borders could increase the world's GDP. Lessened border restrictions to allow people to work wherever jobs are is an opportunity for countries to stimulate their economies.
< (3 of 3) Next argument >


Not sure yet? Read more before voting ↓



People often migrate in search of better economic prospects. Countries with wealthier and stronger economies attract immigrants who have the resources to travel. Migration can boost a nation's economy by increasing the nation's labor supply. What could happen if workers were free to migrate and work anywhere in the world?

The Argument

Abolishing borders would increase countries' productivity and improve the global economy. Labour is the world's most valued commodity, and people tend to move to where work is available.[1] However, border control prevents people from traveling between countries. Borders restrict capable, talented people in countries with less resources from using their talents in economically productive countries. Immigrants can improve the economy of the country they immigrate to.[2][3] Immigrants create jobs; one study found that each immigrant in a new economy can create 1.2 jobs for local workers.[4] Open borders would alllow countries' economies to capitalize on people's willingness to migrate, work, and earn higher wages. Advocates for open borders point to a 2011 literature review by Michael Clemens that reviews the possible GDP gains from lessening border restrictions. Clemens found that (depending on economic models) lessened border restrictions, allowing people to move and work in any country they choose would increase global GDP by between 67-147%.[5] Preventing people from moving for better opportunities is a missed opportunity for economic growth.[6] Lessened border restrictions can alleviate world poverty. Workers can earn higher wages when working in a more developed, productive country. This allows workers and migrants to send money to their homes. Increased income going to families in poorer countries can alleviate poverty more effectively than global foreign aid can.[7] We should abolish borders to let countries' economies benefit from people's willingness to work and earn higher wages for their families.

Counter arguments

1. Opening borders and letting people move to more productive, richer countries will create more economic problems than benefits. One consequence is a "Brain Drain," where talent from poorer countries pour into richer countries, and as a result, poorer countries no longer have the labor supply or talent to maintain their own economies and infrastructure. 2. Opening borders will endanger existing jobs in the country with an influx of immigrants. Bernie Sanders does not support open borders because an influx of immigrants would decrease opportunities for the American worker.[8] 3. Bringing more migrants into wealthier countries doesn’t stop the wealthier countries from taking advantage of migrants who have more to lose and more at stake. These migrants tend to become part of lower-paid job economies. For example, In Qatar, foreign workers make up 95% of the labor force, but these workers cannot leave their jobs or the country without their employer’s permission. [9] Even if workers from poorer countries freely travel to richer countries for better opportunities, it is likely that the richer countries will capitalize on these migrants' work and still mistreat them.


[P1] Borders stop people from moving freely to where there is available work. [P2] Borders prevent people from capitalizing on their talents and working where they can be the most productive. [P3] Abolishing borders would allow people to move freely, thus giving people higher wages and increasing productivity in countries with businesses that need more labor. [P4] Increased productivity from free movement of labor would help the world’s economy.

Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020 at 21:59 UTC

Explore related arguments