The Culture Transplant: My Review
My Reason review of Garett Jones’ The Culture Transplant: How Migrants Make the Economies They Move to a Lot Like the Ones They Left is now up. Though he’s strangely reluctant to name open borders as his target, the book is definitely the most intellectually impressive attempt to rebut the economic case for open borders yet published. And it’s beautifully written; the sentences sing.
Still, I’m dismayed by how little effort Garett makes to respond to any of my criticism of Deep Roots research, the trust-diversity connection, or his anti-immigration interpretation thereof. True, I only posted this criticism on my blog. In case you haven’t heard, though, econ journals virtually never publish critiques of earlier research, so blogs are virtually the sole available venue for this kind of work.*
Highlights from my review:
Yet Jones' evidence argues for radical liberalization of immigration: if not fully open borders, then at least 50 percent open borders—at a time when borders are somewhere around 2 percent open. Using Jones' hand-picked measure of cultural quality, immigration from all of the following countries to the United States would be, by his argument, a clear-cut cultural improvement: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Moldova, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam. Using a slightly different cultural measure adds the 1.7 billion inhabitants of India and Pakistan to the list.
The most restrictive immigration policy the research supports is: "Freely admit anyone who improves your country's Deep Roots." This isn't predicted merely to raise living standards in the receiving countries, but also to fuel global growth by filling the I-7 with high-potential workers. For most of the world's richest countries, this implies radical deregulation—especially for the United States, because despite our high living standards, our ancestry scores are mediocre.
Aside: I’m also surprised that Garett never does a horserace of national IQ against any of the allegedly “cultural” measures in the book. Very surprised, actually.
Read the whole review here.
* The only econ journal that welcomes critiques is Dan Klein’s Econ Journal Watch, which recently published Jason Briggeman’s deep dive into some leading Deep Roots papers. In fairness, this article probably came out too recently for Garett to address.