Lant Pritchett at Reason


Why did Reason wait five months to run this interview with Lant Pritchett, Harvard economist and author of Let Their People Come (free pdfs)? It’s great!

On institutions and migration:

[T]he beautiful thing about institutions that create property rights is that they’re a free good. If we allow in another 10 million, 20 million, 30 million people, then what has created American wealth—its economic institutions that allow entrepreneurship, that allow free markets, that allow people to innovate, that allow people opportunity—none of that is eroded by letting in more people.

America isn’t Kuwait. The wealth of Kuwait is that they’re sitting on this pool of oil. The wealth of America is that we have developed fantastically successful economic institutions. Those institutions are not zero sum. No one has suggested we should have limited America’s natural population growth because with 300 million people there are fewer benefits of our institutions of property rights to go around. It’s the same thing with migration.

On moral philosophy:

Right now all kinds of things that cause much smaller differences in human welfare get much more attention. If we say we are going to discriminate against ethnic Indians in Mexico vs. other citizens of Mexico, there would be a hue and cry across the world. But if we say we’re going to discriminate in favor of people of Mexican descent born in the United States vs. people of Mexican descent born in Mexico, this creates absolutely no moral outrage.