International migration can have several economic benefits but is now facing a political backlash across the world. As several countries place more barriers to migration, a new World Bank study proposes a novel solution that could make migration palatable for all parties.

Economists Michael Lokshin and Martin Ravallion suggest that citizens in richer countries are often unwilling to work in certain types of jobs while citizens from poorer countries would be more than happy to take on those jobs. This, they argue, is a missing market.

To address this, they suggest that the citizens in the rich country, who are by default eligible to work in any job in their country, can rent their right-to-work to citizens from other countries. The authors stress that this right-to-work would be the equivalent of a property right and a market would merely be the most efficient way of trading this right.

This market could take the form of a web platform managed by the host country where citizens can auction off their right-to-work permits. Foreigners can then bid for these rights while also paying a tax to the host country. In order to keep employment unchanged, the right-to-work seller would not be able to work in the country at the same time, but can use the money and time for themselves through activities such as self-employment, education and long vacations.

Through a market like this, the authors argue that richer countries will benefit from a productive workforce and greater taxes while allowing their own citizens to upgrade their skills or pursue their own businesses. They conclude that this market could match the global demand and supply for labour while making international migration more acceptable and efficient.

Also Read: The Missing Market for Work Permits

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