Poverty and immigration policy

Kieran Oberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What are the ethical implications of global poverty for immigration policy? This article finds substantial evidence that migration is effective at reducing poverty. There is every indication that the adoption of a fairly open immigration policy by rich countries, coupled with selective use of immigration restrictions in cases of deleterious brain drain, could be of significant assistance to people living in poor countries. Empirically there is nothing wrong with using immigration policy to address poverty. The reason we have to reject such an approach is not empirical but normative. People have human rights to stay in their home country and to migrate elsewhere. Counter poverty measures that require people to move or to stay are likely to violate these rights. Everyone should be free to migrate but no one should be forced to migrate. Using immigration policy to address global poverty, in place of alternatives, fails on both these counts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-251
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
Early online date8 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • poverty
  • immigration
  • migration
  • brain drain
  • remittances
  • Thomas Pogge
  • Gillian Brock
  • open borders


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