Saturday, April 11, 2009

Immigration Policy as Stimulus

Paul Graham, founder of YCombinator, has a brilliant idea for growing the startup talent in the US: "a policy that would cost nothing: establish a new class of visa for startup founders." It's better than costing "nothing" these entrepreneurs would come to the US to spend money and also potentially bring with them additional investors. This is obviously not an idea that is specific to the US - I'd love to see Canada make it even easier for startup founders.

Canada already has a policy that encourages investors - you can basically buy your way into citizenship by investing 400K (Citzenship and Immigration Canada). In fact, that's similar to what Gary Becker proposes for the US - selling the right to immigrate. As Becker notes, "
Skilled persons would generally be more willing to pay high entrance fees since they would increase their earnings more than unskilled immigrants would. More ambitious and hard working individuals would also be more eager to pay since the U.S. provides better opportunities than most other countries for these types."

Unfortunately the idea of making it easier for immigrants to come into any country in the midst of a recession is counterintuitive and often politically unfeasible. Though with countries like the US and Canada being countries made up of immigrants to begin with, one might think that it would be easier here.

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