“I am actually an open borders kind of guy.”

Kevin Hassett, Economist

Pros and Cons of Open Borders

advantages and disadvantages of open borders vs. closed borders

Open borders are present in many countries all over the world. Open borders allow the free movement of people or goods between countries without having strict border patrol in place.

While there are many advantages related to the concept of open borders, there are also some issues of a lack of border patrol and supervision.

In this article, the pros and cons of open borders are discussed in detail.

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Advantages of Open Borders

  1. Open borders make it easier for people to travel
  2. Can save us plenty of time
  3. Open borders make supply chains more efficient
  4. Encourages international trade
  5. Makes transportation of goods cheaper
  6. Open borders make it easier to visit people who live in neighboring countries
  7. Open borders encourage migration
  8. Makes it easier for people to get out of poverty
  9. Open border can increase global GDP
  10. Bigger variety of products
  11. Better knowledge transfer and higher technological progress
  12. Better investment opportunities for international investors
  13. Proponents of open borders claim that free movement is a human right
  14. Open borders may lead to a bigger cultural diversity in our society
  15. Closed borders are problematic from an ethical perspective
  16. We are all one big family
  17. Could save border patrol costs
  18. Open borders are part of a modern and tolerant society

Open borders make it easier for people to travel

One important advantage of open borders is that it makes it much easier to travel. If people don’t have to pass numerous checkpoints when they have to cross country borders, they can save plenty of time and nerves. Instead of waiting at the border patrol checkpoint, people can spend their time on other more pleasant things.

Can save us plenty of time

In general, open borders can save us plenty of time. This is not only true for private persons, but also for companies. For example, if trucks that have to cross country borders on a regular basis have to wait and spend plenty of time at checkpoints, they will often not be able to deliver their goods on time.

Moreover, the whole delivery process becomes more expensive for companies since drivers will need more time to deliver goods to the final destination and more work time also means higher labor costs. In turn, also the profits of companies may be much lower if strictly closed borders were in place.

Open borders make supply chains more efficient

Another upside of open borders is that this concept makes whole supply chains much more efficient. In the production of goods, various steps need to be taken and there are plenty of different suppliers involved in those processes. In turn, in case there are strictly closed borders, companies may run out of material on a regular basis due to delays in the delivery chain.

Hence, open borders can also assure better reliability of suppliers and the overall supply chain may be much more efficient compared to a state with closed country borders.

Encourages international trade

In general, open borders also encourage international trade. Since it will be much easier for companies to ship their goods with open borders, it will also become much more attractive for companies to expand their target markets. In turn, there will be more international trade agreements that could benefit our global economy as a whole.

Makes transportation of goods cheaper

Open borders can also indirectly lower the prices for goods. Since the trucks of suppliers do not have to wait at border checkpoints for an extensive period of time, companies can save significant labor costs.

In turn, companies can produce the respective product at a lower price and can therefore also offer their goods to customers at a cheaper price. Hence, also we as customers can greatly benefit from open borders.

Open borders make it easier to visit people who live in neighboring countries

Another benefit of open borders is that it makes it easier to visit people in neighboring countries. For instance, imagine you live in one country and want to visit your relatives that live near the border of another country.

While this will be no problem with open borders, it could be quite problematic with closed borders since the border patrol may not grant you permission to visit your relatives.

Open borders encourage migration

With open borders, it will also be much easier for migrants to move to another country. Many people around the world want to leave their home country due to bad future prospects and hope to find a better future in other countries around the world.

However, this will often not be possible due to closed borders. In such a case, people will often not be able to leave their home country and may be stuck in miserable conditions.

Makes it easier for people to get out of poverty

In general, open borders also make it much easier for people to get out of poverty. If people are able to find a new job and a better future in other countries, they will be quite motivated to work hard and to get proper qualifications.

However, with closed borders, people will often lack the motivation to work on themselves since they will have no hope for a better future.

Hence, open borders can also help to keep people who live under difficult conditions motivated to progress in life.

Open border can increase global GDP

Since the overall efficiency of production chains increases and international trade is encouraged through open borders, chances are that the global GDP will increase as well. In turn, also the average living standard for the local population in many countries all over the world will increase as well.

Bigger variety of products

Since it becomes easier to ship all sorts of products to foreign countries if open borders are in place, more companies will try to also deliver rather exotic goods to other countries. In turn, also the overall variety of goods people can choose from tends to increase due to open borders.

Better knowledge transfer and higher technological progress

With open borders, it is also easier for industry experts to travel across many different countries and to meet up with other scientists in order to discuss the latest research findings. In turn, chances are that also the technological progress will speed up with open borders.

Better investment opportunities for international investors

Another chance of open borders is that it provides international investors with better investment conditions. If investors are free to enter or leave a country every time they want to without huge bureaucratic hurdles, investors will be more like to make investments in countries with open borders since does not involve too much organizational work.

In turn, this can greatly benefit the local economy and can help a country to move to the next level. In fact, foreign investments are crucial for many countries to change their status from developing countries to developed nations in a rather short period of time.

Proponents of open borders claim that free movement is a human right

There are also many people out there who claim that open borders are just a human right and that we should all be free regarding wherever we want to go on our planet. Hence, also from a human rights perspective, open borders can make quite a lot of sense.

Open borders may lead to a bigger cultural diversity in our society

Since more people from foreign countries will travel around the world and will migrate to other countries with open borders, chances are that also the local culture could profit from it since it will become more diverse and people can also get to know new lifestyles.

Closed borders are problematic from an ethical perspective

Proponents of open borders also often claim that closed borders also cannot be justified from an ethical perspective. Thus, if we really want to live our lives in a way that we can be proud of it, we should also give people from foreign countries the chance to improve their lives by opening our country borders for them.

We are all one big family

In fact, closed borders also do not make too much sense from a historical perspective. At the beginning of mankind, there had been no country borders at all. In fact, everyone was free to move to different locations and there also were even no countries.

Therefore, country borders do not make too much sense from a broader when we look at this topic from a broader perspective.

Could save border patrol costs

Closed borders are also quite expensive in the sense that they imply significant control and monitoring costs. Therefore, by opening our borders, we could greatly reduce the number of people that have to be employed for border patrol purposes, which would also significantly reduce public spending related to border patrol.

Open borders are part of a modern and tolerant society

Open borders can also be considered as part of a modern, tolerant and open society. In fact, closed borders may even be considered as rather obsolete concept which will no longer make too much sense in the future.

Disadvantages of Open Borders

  1. Migration may become a problem
  2. Makes it easier to smuggle unwanted things into the country
  3. May lead to an exploitation of the welfare state
  4. Can lead to problems with national debt
  5. Too many unskilled workers may enter a country
  6. Some people are not willing to integrate themselves into society
  7. Highly-qualified people may leave a country
  8. Cultural values may change over time
  9. Local overpopulation may become a problem
  10. May increase the level of frustration among the local population

Migration may become a problem

Apart from the numerous advantages of open borders, there are still some downsides related to this concept. For example, one problem with open borders is that excessive migration can become an issue.

In fact, while a moderate number of migrants is not a big deal, migration can become a problem if the number of migrants becomes too high.

Thus, if too many people decide to migrate to a country, it could make sense to close borders.

Makes it easier to smuggle unwanted things into the country

Another disadvantage of open borders is that it makes it easier to smuggle unwanted goods into a country. In fact, large amounts of illegal substances are shipped to several countries all over the world each year.

Hence, if we want to reduce this issue, closing borders could also make sense to make it harder for smugglers to distribute their substances.

May lead to an exploitation of the welfare state

Many migrants may also want to migrate to other countries due to the fact that the social security and welfare are much better in other countries. However, if this is the case, migration can lead to serious exploitation of countries with good social security schemes. In turn, this can lead to serious issues for those countries since their expenses for welfare may skyrocket.

Can lead to problems with national debt

Due to excessive migration and higher spending on welfare programs, open borders may also lead to serious issues regarding sovereign debt. In fact, some countries may even have to declare sovereign bankruptcy in the long run if borders are not controlled in a sufficient manner.

Hence, excessive migration due to open country borders may also lead to serious financial problems in some countries.

Too many unskilled workers may enter a country

While some migrants have a quite high skill level and will find a job quite soon, a big fraction of migrants will not have too high education levels and many of those people will end up unemployed sooner or later. In turn, expenses related to unemployment benefits would increase as well, which would imply an additional burden on government finances.

Some people are not willing to integrate themselves into society

While the big majority of migrants will be willing to integrate themselves into our society, some migrants will simply not be willing to do so due to religious aspects or differences in cultural values and social norms.

However, if people are not willing to integrate themselves into our society, they will often become socially isolated, which can cause several other issues for our society as a whole.

Hence, open borders may also contribute to the social isolation and formation of certain minority groups.

Highly-qualified people may leave a country

Another disadvantage of open borders is that highly-qualified people may leave a country. In fact, if people in poor developing countries have a high level of education, they will often try to find a job in the rich Western world in order to improve their overall quality of life.

However, while this can be quite beneficial for the respective person, it can be rather harmful to his or her home country since if too many highly-qualified people leave, the country will not progress in a proper manner.

Thus, open borders can also greatly harm the economies of poor countries all over the world since too many good people may leave those countries.

Cultural values may change over time

Opponents of open borders also often claim that if too many migrants enter the country, this will also change the entire culture in the respective country. While it is true that there will be a certain change in cultural values over time, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, cultural diversity can have many important advantages and we should embrace certain changes in order to achieve a more tolerant society.

Local overpopulation may become a problem

Since some countries are much more popular than others when it comes to migration, open borders can also lead to problems in the sense that too many migrants want to live in the same country.

In turn, this can lead to serious local overpopulation and it is therefore crucial that every country in our Western world agrees to accept a certain number of migrants in order to avoid local overpopulation and the related adverse effects.

May increase the level of frustration among the local population

Open borders can also be problematic in the sense that the local population may become increasingly frustrated over time. In fact, many people feel like they are neglected while migrants get all the benefits and this can lead to serious negative developments in the political landscape.

Top 10 Open Borders Pros & Cons – Summary List

Open Borders ProsOpen Borders Cons
Open borders can make traveling easierOpen borders may lead to excessive migration
Open borders can provide better job optionsSmuggling of substances is a problem
Can make supply chains more efficientPotential sovereign default
Open borders can make products cheaperErosion of the welfare state
Can make delivery processes fasterHighly-qualified people may leave the country
Lower costs for companiesLocal overpopulation in certain countries
Can increase global GDPMay lead to frustration among locals
Open borders lead to more international tradeCultural values may change over time
Bigger variety of productsMany unskilled workers may enter a country
Can save border patrol costsSome migrants are not willing to integrate

Should We Have Open Borders?

We can conclude from the previous analysis that there are many advantages and disadvantages of open borders. However, in my opinion, it is our human right to travel to every part of the world we want to and therefore, we should allow open borders as long as this concept is not misused.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_border

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/the-case-for-open-borders

https://reason.com/2015/04/30/open-borders-in-america/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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