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Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,129 ratings  ·  476 reviews
Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction.

American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more re
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by First Second
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  2,129 ratings  ·  476 reviews

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Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m very familiar with Bryan Caplan’s work and how provocative it is. This book was no different and it did change my perspective a bit on immigration. How often have you heard that immigrants lower wages, refuse to assimilate, commit more crime, and are a net-burden? This book debunks these points in a way that doesn’t sound condescending or puts anyone down. He even talks about taboo topics like national IQ and immigration.

His arguments can appeal to both conservatives and liberals. For conser
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
Nicely illustrated but there are certainly some pretty serious troubles with its reasoning. The first and most significant is the issue than naturally pops up is that it simply equates increased production of wealth with progress and flourishing, which is view of reality that can only make sense if money in itself is treated as having an intrinsic moral value and human worth.

The other trouble is the author is fond of false comparisons. In particular there is a tendency to take the benefits of t
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics

Beautiful stuff, perhaps the clearest economic argument I've ever seen, and more moving than expected. I've seen people dismiss it as narrowly economic ("people value more than money ya know") but this is stupid: fully half the book is about morals and culture. There are dozens of lovely little easter eggs in Weinersmith's art too (e.g. "Conspicuone Pecansumption" icecream).

The arguments:

1. Closed borders lead to incredible suffering - not just the obvious oppression of camps, raids, struggle an
Julian Michael
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to enjoying this book, but I left it disappointed. Maybe I'm not the right audience, because I'm already somewhat sympathetic to the idea of open borders, and Caplan approaches the issue as if he's arguing from outside the Overton Window. But in my point of view, the book's arguments are shallow and misguided.

The most amazing thing about this work is how much time it spends discussing the disparity in wealth and living conditions between the developed and developing world,
I read a graphic novel about immigration policy written by an economist and if that doesn’t sound like compelling reading to you, allow me to SHOVE THIS BOOK AT YOU AND URGE YOU TO READ IT.
If for no other reason than it provides a rebuttal to that moronic Skittles argument.
Chris Chester
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'll preface this by saying that I've been a regular reader of Zach Weinersmith's webcomic for years. I would never have picked up a book like this normally, but since he specifically asked his normal readers to help him out with it, I preordered sight unseen because... you have to support the creators whose work you enjoy!

Having said that, this is a strange book and I'm not entirely sure who the audience is supposed to be. Obviously, Caplan is making an argument for open borders. The crux of hi
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book itself is good, but not great. It's good because:
- It presents the standard arguments for open borders well
- It somewhat competently rebuts a number of common objections
- It's fun to read.

It's not great because:
- He [weak-mans]( opposing arguments.
- His arguments in a few key areas are pretty weak or use bad evidence.
- There's nothing here that you won't have heard before if you're somewhat interested in libertarianism/migration ethics.

His Case:
Jim Angstadt
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration
Bryan Caplan

This graphic novel has a surprisingly large and thoughtful amount of analysis on the pros and cons of open borders. It doesn't read as quickly as one might expect with a graphic novel, due certainly to the content, but a lot quicker and more comprehensive that some other readings.
Rod Brown
Bryan Caplan makes a persuasive case for deregulating immigration and opening borders. I'm not sure it will change the minds of those dead-set against immigration, but it's good debate fodder for those of us who would like to see a loosening of immigration restrictions. And, hey, it's all in graphic novel format, so even the math and statistics bits stay breezy and light. ...more
Stewart Tame
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Bryan Caplan, with the help of ace cartoonist, Zach Weinersmith, makes the case for open borders. He makes a fairly compelling case, actually. He addresses the standard arguments against open immigration, and offers plenty of evidence in support of their groundlessness. He also offers what he calls “keyhole solutions” that address some anti-immigrationist fears in ways that are less restrictive than outright closed borders.

Admittedly, even before reading this book, I was in favor of
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Caplan and Weinersmith make a strong case for open borders that doesn’t belittle the views of their detractors. I would consider myself a strong proponent of increased immigration, but there are some arguments in this book I hadn’t heard of before such as the reply to concerns of lowered national IQ.

The Overton window on immigration policy has been too narrow for too long. I hope this book changes that.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Skeptical of any book that leads with a solution (not a problem), but more than willing to be convinced about open borders, I was mostly turned off by the relentless rhetoric, the weird libertarian/jehovas witness vibe, the breathless American exceptionalism, the condescending lecture on numeracy, the reductive treatment of socialism, the simplistic economic world view, and the characterization of free movement in the EU. Exhausting.
Thomas Ray
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Open Borders, Bryan Caplan, drawn by Zach Weinersmith, comic book, 2019, 248pp., ISBN 9781250316967

Caplan wants open borders. It's heartening to read a plea for more humane immigration policy. But he's an ivory-tower economist, at Koch-funded George Mason University economics department.

[My take, in brackets]:(view spoiler)
A quick, easy-to-read tour of the main arguments for and against open immigration. However, it skimmed over some concerns about immigration too superficially. Even though I agree with the conclusion that the USA's borders should be much more open (full disclosure: I'm an immigrant here myself!), I would have liked to see a more sincere engagement with several of the arguments against immigration. (See also this review by Julian Michael for better-stated criticisms of the book.)

In particular, Cap
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
Caplan's and Weinersmith's comic is "the sort of thing that you hear about and you're like, 'I can't believe that doesn't exist already. That's just the perfect thing to exist.'" - Julia Galef in her podcast interview with Caplan [1]

Overall, I think Caplan makes a very compelling case, but my conservative gut could still spit out enough "but"s to keep me dissatisfied. Mostly because I don't live in the U.S. and wonder about how much his arguments apply to the EU. But there are also some other th
Melania 🍒

“ (...) open borders is a fantastic opportunity for all humanity. Realizing this fantastic opportunity will be a long journey. But when we get there, you won’t believe your eyes “
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Economist Bryan Caplan presents his arguments for open borders in graphic novel form with the help of artist Zach Weinersmith. The arguments are well presented and the artwork is light and friendly, which makes this heavy topic more approachable for younger readers. It is worth reading in this age of anti-immigration furor.
Fully support the argument, but the execution made it too easy to poke holes in the proposal.

This book is best used by liberals to educate themselves on how to have immigration conversations with their conservative family members over Thanksgiving. The talking points are easy to understand and light enough to banter but lack depth for meaningful discourse.

Economic theory is fascinating! So finding a comic book about immigration economics was a delightful surprise. While I agree with the ideas,
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I actually read a lot of middle grade and YA nonfiction comics, so I’m well aware there’s a decent audience who reads NF GN for fun and not just formal academic purposes. With that in mind, this had a good narrative thread and is very reader friendly-from my perspective as someone who dabbles in Econ and politics podcasts but has no background in this area at all.

Charts and graphs are sprinkled throughout to support the auth
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“Immigration laws don’t merely allow discrimination. They require it!”

Welcome to the world of immigration through the eyes of an economist. Caplan places great emphasis of the importance of numeracy, which really has an effective way of putting many of his arguments into perspective, for example, “Americans’ annual risk of dying from terrorism was 1 in 3,200,000. You are literally more likely to be struck by lightning.” And what about “The foreign born are less criminally inclined than natives.”
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Open Borders is a graphic novel about immigration from the perspective of economics and policy. It advocated for Open Borders and lays out a case for why people on both sides of the aisle in American politics should also support it. I had mixed feelings about this one. I like what it's trying to do and think that much of the information in her is interesting and useful. However, it really reads more like a graphic version of a textbook and the organization doesn't always work that well. It can b ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Required reading for anyone with a conscience.
Open borders is one of those ethical questions, like slavery, that people in the future will back look back on with order. How could everyone convince themselves it was okay for one group of people to draw an enormous line and use force to keep other people out? How could they debate the economic and cultural effects, argue over the morality of minor policy changes, while taking for granted the validity of the whole evil premise? My political views have changed a lot since I was a 14-year-old an ...more
Jason Furman
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. A graphic novel that is a sympathetic polemic for Open Borders—exploring the economics, ethics, and policy of it in a way that is meant to move and persuade without shaming or condescension. It manages to convey a lot of information and arguments in a format that is easy to absorb and sometimes amusing. The core argument is that world would be about twice as rich if people were free to move from less productive countries to more productive countries, this would also be more moral und ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is an economist at George Mason University. In “Open Borders” he has written a serious argument in favor of a US national immigration policy regime of open borders. The general argument is that this will be a good idea solely on the grounds of the increased productivity it will bring to the US. Throughout the book, he encounters and addresses various arguments against his position and he responds to them all by a combination of principled argument (from a wide range of ethical perspec ...more
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is both hilarious and informative. I’ve been slowly coming around to the idea of open borders since 2016 or so, at first on the basis of, “If Republicans want to tarnish HRC by falsely claiming she’s in favor of it, it’s probably a good policy.” While I doubt that I’d agree with the authors on everything with regards to politics and economics, the arguments in favor of open borders seem smart, as do the examples of how to overcome arguments against them. I think the authors give short ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics
Disappointing. I'm definitely not the target audience for a right-libertarian polemic in favor of open borders, so this was hard to read. I agree with the moral argument, but I couldn't get over a very standard economist sleight-of-hand: if you are worried about the impact on precarious or poor citizens, don't worry, the wealth overall created is so large you could theoretically redistribute it to them! For decades, economists have been offering this kind of argument with one side of their mouth ...more
Shannon Appelcline
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'd expected this book to be about the advantages of immigration in the modern day. What I hadn't expected (probably because I don't remember where I got the recommendation for it) was a full-throated call for entirely open immigration, with no borders to work or to live in any country. It was an interesting premise that I had never even considered, but Caplan did a good job of first of all presenting it as a moral issue or freedom and second of all doing his best to knock down many fears about ...more
Coop Williams
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-2019
Anyone who's even mildly interested in immigration should read this. It presents all the strongest arguments for increased immigration in a form that even young teens can engage with. My main criticism is that opponents' arguments are presented in pretty weak form in the text itself. They're covered more in-depth in the endnotes (which are frustratingly not numbered), but I personally wanted the text to involve more of an all-out tussle of ideas. The good news is that Caplan has prolifically pub ...more
Chris Callaway
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had high hopes, and it exceeded them. This book brings an important issue to life. It's a wonderfully clear explanation of why we should have (or at least try to have) open borders. But the artwork (by Zach Weinersmith, of the web comic SMBC) nis what makes the book truly wonderful. The drawings interact with the text ingeniously. So the book is a great achievement not only in popular social science but also in terms of visual storytelling. ...more
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Bryan Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He received his B.S. in economics from University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. His professional work has been devoted to the philosophies of libertarianism and free-market capitalism and anarchism. (He is the author of the Anarchist Theory FAQ.) He has published in American ...more

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