Breakfast Briefings

More migrants, fewer rights?: How shall we balance openness and rights in labour immigration policy?

Breakfast Briefings / Friday 18 October 2013

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Many low-income countries and development organisations are calling for greater liberalization of labor immigration policies in high-income countries. At the same time, human rights organisations and migrant rights advocates demand more equal rights for migrant workers. The Price of Rights, a new book by COMPAS economist Martin Ruhs, shows why you cannot always have both.

Examining labor immigration policies in over forty countries, as well as policy drivers in major migrant-receiving and migrant-sending states, Martin Ruhs finds that there are trade-offs in the policies of high-income countries between openness to admitting migrant workers and some of the rights granted to migrants after admission. Insisting on greater equality of rights for migrant workers can come at the price of more restrictive admission policies, especially for lower-skilled workers.

In this breakfast briefing, Martin Ruhs will give an overview of his analysis and discuss the implications for global and national debates about migrant rights, labour migration and development.

For more information about the book (including a short book trailer), visit

Speaker: Martin Ruhs, University Lecturer in Political Economy at Kellogg College and Senior Researcher at COMPAS