Thoughts on economics and liberty

Free societies are people magnets

Ask of a society what its net balance of migration is and you’ll get a sense of its level of freedom. Does the society attract more migrants, or do more of its citizens leave it? In this way, freedom comes closest to being measured objectively through its effect on the physical flow of people from a lower to higher levels of freedom. We can predict this flow with almost the same precision with which we predict the flow of water which flows, instead, from a higher to a lower level.

While economic reasons may impel people to temporarily work in places like Saudi Arabia or Libya, for the most part people do not migrate to or move to countries merely for a better standard of living. What they look for is the opportunity to achieve their own, and even more importantly, their children’s highest potential. A consequence of their people-magnetism is that free societies are almost always multi-cultural and multi-ethnic melting pots.

While nowhere in the league of ill-fated North Korea or Afghanistan, India also has net outflows of people. Indians have essentially fled from socialist tyranny and injustice. Despite the lack of welcome in the West till recently (racism is lesser now than it was in the past), many Indians prefer to live in the West than in their own shackled homeland. This exodus has stemmed somewhat with the Indian economy being freed up, though the data indicate an overall accelerating trend.

The following Tables outline some of the trends of emigration from India. 

Table 1: Indian Emigrants to the United States[i]
Share of immigrants received by USA
Table 2: Indian Emigrants to Australia[ii]
India’s corrupt governance and dearth of good educational institutions largely explains this acceleration, despite increasing economic opportunities within the country. Corruption in India is frequently among the main reasons cited by people for leaving India. If India does not reform its governance, this exodus will gather pace since it is currently restricted by limited intakes by the West. We know that the more talented people of a society are disproportionately more important to that society than their sheer numbers would indicate.[iii] The problem is that it is these more talented people of India who are most likely to leave. ‘Indians in the United States are almost 20 times more likely to be college educated than Indians in India.’[iv]
[This is an extract from my book, Breaking Free of Nehru]

[i] [].

[ii] [].

[iii] Prathap, Gangan, ‘A Soft Mathematical Model for Brain Drain’, Current Science, Vol. 85, No. 5, 2003, pp.593–6.

[iv] Kapur, Devesh, ‘Ideas and Economic Reforms in India: The Role of International Migration and the Indian Diaspora’, India Review, Vol. 3, No. 4. 2004, p.367. 

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3 thoughts on “Free societies are people magnets
  1. raj

    India's recent economic growth has helped to stem the flow a bit. However, we must thank the West for tightening immigration for various reasons. A good number of people in the U.S are leaving and will leave if the economy does not improve(I doubt it will ever improve). Europe is having their own version of economic disasters almost monthly.
    The other two "Western" countries that still attract are Australia(which is somewhat affected by racism). So New Zealand has a good chance of attracting the best Indians.
    Since, new Zealand is a small country, a good number of people will move to India provided the right conditions exist. I hope India uses this valuable opportunity to get back its brain power.


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