The international movement of people: the fourth economic freedom

by Michael Trebilcock

Working Papers WP 18-05
October 2018
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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The so-called four economic freedoms: cross-border movement of goods, cross-border movement of services, cross-border movement of capital, and cross-border movement of people are often viewed as central to the European integration enterprise, and reflect more broadly international trends towards economic integration (or globalization) in the post-war period. However, outside the EU, this process has been much more incremental, with much more fully developed international disciplines on cross-border movement of goods than cross-border movement of services, capital and people. While the economic case for the four economic freedoms rests on a single premise, i.e., that with fewer restrictions on the cross-border movement of goods, services, capital and people, resources will gravitate, over time to their most productive uses, hence increasing global economic output and global welfare, the conditions and qualifications attaching to this premise differ significantly, from one freedom to another. This paper focusses on the fourth economic freedom.

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