Immigration law and the international governance of migration in light of the theory of property rights (completed)

Stefan Schlegel

My research centres on the question of which goods (like access to well-functioning public institutions and well-functioning labour markets) are distributed by administrative law, especially immigration law? I analyse international treaties on migration from the perspective of the goods that are transferred by these treaties, both from states to states and from states to individuals. I hope to develop a common understanding of the growing number and variety of international treaties regarding migration and a common language for the goods (like market access and control over this access) that are transferred by these treaties. I develop the idea that blocking migration imposes a negative external effect on foreign countries and their citizens and that many treaties regarding migration can be understood as an attempt to internalize some of that effect.

The insight that immigration law allocates good ‘access to institutions’ is also useful for the debate on migration and development. I identify this access as the main reason why migration can have such an opportunity-enhancing effect on individuals and households. If control over this access is understood as a property right, then the rich insights on the importance of secure property rights for socio-economic development can be applied to the analysis of migration as a contributor to development.

In addition, I analyse the historical evolution of immigration law as an allocator of goods. I ask whether immigration law can be better understood if its genesis is described as a series of reactions to the changing value of the good ‘control over immigration’ due to changing economic and technological circumstances, especially changing transaction costs in the transfer and enforcement of the property right over someone’s migration.

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