Mason Korea Seminar Series

China Grew Fast and Other Econometric Critiques of Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

Monday, April 18, 2022 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM KST
Mason Korea (119 Songdomunhwa-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, Korea), Zoom

Mason Korea Seminar Series


Dr. Garett Jones, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax


In the NYT best-selling graphic novel Open Borders, coauthored by GMU's Bryan Caplan, Caplan critiques the Deep Roots literature. In one set of estimates Caplan reweights some standard cross-country regression estimates by national population, thereby giving about one- sixth of all estimation weight to China and India. Previous estimates-as in Putterman and Weil (QJE 2010) or Spolaore and Wacziarg (JEL 2013) had shown that some ancestral traits like experience with agriculture or experience living under organized states were robust predictors of modern GDP per capita; but Caplan's population weighting made those ancestral traits statistically insignificant. Accepting Caplan's population weighting for the sake of argument, I find that either running theoretically better motivated growth regressions in lieu of GDP levels regressions or using the Comin, Easterly, Gong (AEJ:M 2010) Tech History index as the measure of ancestral traits restores the previous statistical significance with large coefficients.

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