International migration

The international movement of labour remains much more restricted than movement of goods or capital, and the worldwide economic gains to liberalizing migration are large. This paper asks whether those gains could be realized through better international cooperation on migration along the lines of the WTO for trade. Although public opinion is marginally more negative towards the liberalization of migration than of trade, the key impediment is the lack of a basis for reciprocity in negotiations over migration. And this is because migration is largely driven by absolute advantage rather than by comparative advantage as in the case of trade. Consequently there is no basis for WTO-style negotiations over migration and therefore no grounds for reforming the international architecture in the hope of fostering liberalization.

— Timothy J. Hatton