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Much of the demand for automation in richer countries – whether it be for self-checkout machines or driverless trucks – is driven by labor scarcity. And as populations in these countries age, this scarcity will become more acute. 

Yet, as Lant Pritchett highlights in a recent Foreign Affairs article, globally, labor remains abundant. Rather than devoting vital high-level scientific and technological knowledge as well as entrepreneurship to address these shortages, a far more efficient solution is to simply allow greater immigration from labor-abundant countries, whose workers would welcome these employment opportunities. Lant discusses the broad economic arguments for, as well as the political and social concerns against, greater international labor mobility in this EconoFact Chats episode. 

Lant is research director of the Labor Mobility Partnerships. He has worked at the World Bank and has taught at Harvard, Oxford, and the London School of Economics.

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