Money, Migration, and Morality

Convenor: Dr. Lior Erez, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Tel Aviv University

In the heated debates surrounding the policies and practices of migration, one issue in particular elicits controversy: the introduction of money. Whether expressed through market mechanisms, financial incentives, or economic criteria, for many observers there is a sense that mixing money and migration policy is wrong. And yet policies, practices, and proposals in this vein are bourgeoning. States from Antigua to Vanuatu are now offering citizenship by investment, with little to no residence requirements, and even more commonly states offer stratified migration routes to those able to pay for it. States frequently add economic criteria to residency and naturalisation requirements, with the cost of application proving prohibitive to many prospective applicants. Migrants are offered financial incentives to return to their homelands, as states bargain for compensation for keeping refugees at bay. In the meanwhile, illegal markets of migration, from smugglers to foragers to facilitators of fictitious marriages, abound.

The aim of this workshop will be to explore the philosophical, political, and ethical facets of these phenomena. Is there a common theoretical core to understanding these different practices? What is the best way to conceptualise the general public controversy surrounding these policies? What are the ethical and political questions that arise from mixing money, markets and migration? How do these practices affect common conceptions of state sovereignty, citizenship, national identity?

We also invite contributions which will respond to and consider radical proposals for introducing money and markets to migration policy, now common in legal, economic and political scholarship: these include, for example, states selling migration rights to the highest bidder; allowing markets for individuals to buy and sell migration rights; and introducing a market mechanism for trading refugee quotas, allowing states to pay for restricting migration or benefit from their willingness to receive it.

The approach of the workshop to this question will be pluralistic, encouraging papers from all disciplines including analytical political philosophy, political economy, critical social theory, legal theory, and international relations.

Suggested topics of papers may include, but need not be limited to:

  • Theories of commodification and the limits of markets in legal, social, and political theory, applied to question of migration policy
  • The cases for and against citizenship for sale, investor migration, and “Golden visas”
  • Markets in migration and the boundary problem in democratic theory
  • Trading refugee quotas and paying migrants to leave
  • The marketization of state sovereignty and global injustice
  • Civic equality and prohibitive economic conditions for residence and naturalisation of migrants
  • Human capital flight (“brain drain”), exclusionary migration policies, and economic compensation.
  • The ethics of illegal markets in migration

To apply, please send an abstract (500 words max.) to Lior Erez (liorerez [at] no later than 24th May, 2018.