Labor mobility destroying nations

The map above demonstrates what has happened as a result of the European Union’s establishment of a free trade zone throughout Europe. Notice that despite the absence of the promised economic growth throughout the EU, the increase in the international mobility rate has increased considerably in the last decade, even in the wealthier countries such as Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. Incredibly, some of the Balkan states have seen more than one-third of their populations abandon the country!

This conclusively proves what I have concluded with regards to the way that free trade inevitably destroys nations. The freer the trade, the more endangered the nation. How can you have a nation when its people are scattered all throughout the world, trying to find employment? It is evidence that confirms what I’d first warned about in a free trade post back in 2012. As Dr. James Miller admitted in our debate, later published as On the Question of Free Trade, labor mobility, and its societal costs, are something that no free trade-advocating economist has ever taken into account

In the former EU15, only about 0.1% of the working age population changes its country of residence in a given year. Conversely, in the US, about 3% of the working age population moves to a different state every year, These institutional and cultural differences suggest comparing internal geographical mobility in the US with the situation within EU Member States rather than between Member States.

In doing so, the figures narrow the ‘mobility gap’ between Europe and the US. Between 2000 and 2005, about 1% of the working age population had changed residence each year from one region to another within the EU15 countries, compared to an overall interstate mobility rate of 2.8%-3.4% in the US during the same period of time.”

What this means is that US workers are about 3x more willing to change their state of residence than European workers are willing to change their region of residence within national borders, and 30x more inclined to change their state of residence than Europeans are inclined to change their country of residence, even though the US state-to-state change likely involves a bigger geographic move than the EU country-to-country one.

It should be noted that increasing this country-to-country labor mobility rate within the EU is not only a major goal of the EU economic advisers, but the explicitly stated reason for this goal is their belief that increased labor mobility is required in order to increase economic growth.

Now, let’s look at what that annual 3 percent intra-US mobility translates to in terms of the overall population. The statistics are as follows for Americans between the ages of 25 and 44:

  • East 54.3 percent
  • Midwest 65.0 percent 
  • South 47.3 percent
  • West 40.2 percent

This is why the Midwest has changed much less over the last 40 years than either the East Coast or the West Coast; more Midwesterners stay in the Midwest and maintain their laws and cultural traditions. But more importantly, note what this signifies for the USA if the apostles of free trade were ever able to achieve their goal of permitting international trade to take place on the same terms as American domestic trade in a manner that realized the anticipated economic benefits: very nearly half of all American workers would be expected to leave the USA by the average age of 35!

This vast exodus of young Americans would say nothing, of course, of the hundreds of millions of non-American workers who would be expected to enter the USA, with all of the various consequences to be expected as a result of immigration that is an order of magnitude larger than the current wave.

The logic of free trade is inescapable. It amounts to a choice between a steadily declining living standard if free trade is limited to goods and capital versus the total destruction of the nation and the replacement of a majority of its population within a single lifetime if it is pursued to the full “beneficial extent” of the concept.