Closing the border can do more harm than good to national wellbeing.

Wellbeing of EU citizens increases on average with free movement within the EU.

  •  Doctor Anna  AlexandrovaDoctor Anna Alexandrova
    Agree
    I believe different senses of wellbeing likely respond differently to free movement. Wellbeing in the sense of accomplishment of personal priorities and goals surely increases with fewer obstacles and free movement removes these obstacles. However wellbeing in the sense of emotional state may well be affected negatively by even the mere awareness that moving to a 'better place' is the right way to improve life. This ideology likely undermines sense of community and people's commitment to their kin, all important elements of wellbeing themselves. There could also be opposing effects (emotional state suffering from lack of options) and frankly I don't think we know enough to conclude which effect is stronger. This is why freedom of movement is a value that will need to be defended on additional grounds such as justice and solidarity, not only wellbeing.

  •  Professor Peter  SingerProfessor Peter Singer
    Disagree
    In theory, free movement of peoples within the EU should increase average welfare. But that fails to take account of the hostility to immigrants among significant sections of the public. Those people then become susceptible to appeals from right-wing extremists. The result is votes like Brexit and (though this is not in the EU, of course) the election of Donald Trump. If that trend continues in Europe, and the extreme right becomes more influential, average wellbeing will fall.

  •  Professor Leonardo  BechettiProfessor Leonardo Bechetti
    Disagree
    the problem is that migration of low skilled workers creates competition on the low end of the skill distribution reducing wages of unskilled domestic workers. This reduces wellbeing of this group of workers and produces as well hostility and extreme voting (https://www.unibz.it/it/events/121268-research-seminar-does-migration-cause-extreme-voting). The elephant-shape graph of Milanovic explains the same point documenting why the current phase of globalisation risks to become politically unsustainable Reality is exacerbated by perceptions induced by media and political parties that have interests in extreme voting

  •  Doctor Chris  Barrington-LeighDoctor Chris Barrington-Leigh
    Neither agree nor disagree
    This one's beyond me. There are multiple issues, dynamics on different time scales, and multiple possible equilibria here. I don't know of SWB research to bring to this with much specificity, though I hope others do.

  •  Professor Dan  HaybronProfessor Dan Haybron
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I don't know any research on this question, and the issues are complex enough that it is hard to guess. I could imagine both positive and negative effects.

  •  Professor Arie  KapteynProfessor Arie Kapteyn
    Agree strongly
    In itself removing restrictions tends to be welfare enhancing; there is a potential downside of increasing tension between natives and foreigners, but as the Brexit vote shows the people most exposed to non-nationals are most happy with free movement

  •  Professor Richard  EasterlinProfessor Richard Easterlin
    Neither agree nor disagree
    Too many pros and cons to make a definitive statement.

  •  Professor Mariano  RojasProfessor Mariano Rojas
    Neither agree nor disagree
    This is really a difficult topic which requires more research. There are indirect well-being impacts of free movement (educational, economic, marriage, so on) and there are direct well-being impacts (how locals react to more foreigners living in the neighborhood and whether they are willing or have been educated to accept -and even to value- cultural differences). I do believe that the main issue for well-being studies should be addressing how people ought to be educated in order to recognize the value of every human being, independently of his/her culture, religion, ethnicity, language and so on.

  •  Doctor Daniel  BenjaminDoctor Daniel Benjamin
    Agree
    Some people are impacted negatively when low-skill workers migrate from elsewhere and take job opportunities away from locals. But I believe that the wellbeing gains from better matching of people to jobs, and of people to places, outweighs the losses on average. Moreover, the gains in liberty add as well to wellbeing, which I am defining as satisfaction of reasoned preferences.

  •  Professor Nick  PowdthaveeProfessor Nick Powdthavee
    Agree strongly
    We know from evidence that dissatisfaction with life drives individual's decision to migrate. Assuming that migration leads to an increase in income and other life opportunities that are likely to be more positive than negative for the migrants, I can only think that wellbeing of EU citizens will increase as a result of free movement within EU.

  •  Professor Ruut  VeenhovenProfessor Ruut Veenhoven
    Agree strongly
    Average life satisfaction has increased in most member states after joining the EU and this was also the case in the UK. Free movement within the EU is likely to be one of the drivers of this gain in well-being, since freedom typically adds to life-satisfaction, allowing people to find a way of life that fits them best. The rise of average life-satisfaction in EU nations, co-exists with a small decline of life-satisfaction in particular areas and publics in the UK associated with influx of migrants from Eastern Europe.

  •  Professor Heinz  WelschProfessor Heinz Welsch
    Agree
    There are several aspects of the term "free movement". The most obvious is open borders, no visas etc., which I think almost everybody enjoys. Another is worker mobility. Standard economics suggests that it enhances economic well-being ON AVERAGE. There may exist groups that loose. Economic and social policy must take care of those.

  •  Professor Bruno  FreyProfessor Bruno Frey
    Agree
    Opens new opportunities and increases autonomy, and of course raises the per capita income.

  •  Professor Ada  Ferrer-i-CarbonnellProfessor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
    Agree
    Yes, free movement of people allow optimizing allocation of resources.

  •  Professor Homa  ZarghameeProfessor Homa Zarghamee
    Agree strongly
    Crudely, if potential migrants are worse off than host-country inhabitants, then migrants' wellbeing gains from free movement likely outweigh any reduction in wellbeing experienced by host-country inhabitants.

  •  Doctor Esteban  CalvoDoctor Esteban Calvo
    Agree
    Freedom to move around the EU is an opportunity for well-being, but whether or not well-being is increased remains uncertain. The reasons behind the move are probably an important factor shaping well-being outcomes.

  •  Professor Alois  StutzerProfessor Alois Stutzer
    Agree
    ... with those who move benefiting the most.





The UK closing its borders for EU nationals who want to work in the UK after Brexit would harm both UK wellbeing and that of the rest of the EU.

  •  Doctor Anna  AlexandrovaDoctor Anna Alexandrova
    Agree strongly
    It's hard to imagine that it wouldn't, now that we've tasted free movement of labour. The direction of change matters in this case.

  •  Professor Peter  SingerProfessor Peter Singer
    Neither agree nor disagree
    See previous comment. Similar considerations may apply, as the Brexit vote indicates.

  •  Professor Leonardo  BechettiProfessor Leonardo Bechetti
    Agree
    I agree that restricting movement of EU nationals with the US is not a good solution to the problem I described with my previous answer. It creates another problem to solve an ongoing problem

  •  Doctor Chris  Barrington-LeighDoctor Chris Barrington-Leigh
    Neither agree nor disagree
    There are plenty of principles here which do not rely on insights from recent SWB (life satisfaction) literature, such as that surprises are probably not good either psychologically or materially. That is, for people who have made choices and investments (social, human, financial, geographic) assuming the rules were stable, something is being taken away (which we know humans are particularly sensitive to), and it's not clear what is being gained. What we know from SWB is that the full set of costs and benefits should include the social, family, and emotional disruption, and should put appropriate large weight on job loss, rather than counting only incomes (or, worst of all, treating trade flow volumes as though they are a direct benefit measure).

  •  Professor Dan  HaybronProfessor Dan Haybron
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I imagine the effect would be negative, especially economically, but again don't know the research on this question well enough to venture an informed opinion.

  •  Professor Arie  KapteynProfessor Arie Kapteyn
    Agree strongly
    My answer really follows from the previous one. Isolationism appears to be based mainly on fear; giving in to it feeds fear. Fear has a negative effect on wellbeing

  •  Professor Richard  EasterlinProfessor Richard Easterlin
    Neither agree nor disagree
    Life satisfaction depends on many things. It's not clear that this in an of itself would be of major importance, one way or the other.

  •  Professor Mariano  RojasProfessor Mariano Rojas
    Neither agree nor disagree
    Again, I think we do not have enough research to provide a solid response to this question.

  •  Doctor Daniel  BenjaminDoctor Daniel Benjamin
    Agree
    Same reasoning as my response to the previous question.

  •  Professor Nick  PowdthaveeProfessor Nick Powdthavee
    Agree strongly
    The average wellbeing of EU nationals will almost certainly decrease immediately following Brexit as many people will be forced to leave their jobs and family, which are major sources of people's wellbeing. The average wellbeing of people who voted to remain (leave) may decrease (increase) in the short-run following Brexit, but unless Brexit changes the way they live their lives, the effect is unlikely to last for very long.

  •  Professor Ruut  VeenhovenProfessor Ruut Veenhoven
    Agree
    An immediate negative effect on life-satisfaction is in the restriction of freedom for EU nationals, and probably also for UK nationals, if similar restrictions are imposed by the EU. In the long-run, the life-satisfaction in Europe will also be negatively affected by reduced economic efficiency and weakened global political power, the indirect effects of which are likely to affect life-satisfaction more than the, possible, direct effects of a strong sense of national identity

  •  Professor Heinz  WelschProfessor Heinz Welsch
    Agree
    Following up on Statement No. 1, Brexit is economically bad for both the average UK and average rest-of-EU citizen. Wellbeing, however, depends not just on economic issues. It has been found that people's attitudes towards immigraton depend more on concern about cultural composition and identity than on economic issues. I would expect that a high weight placed on cultural concerns applies not only to immigration-related attitudes but also to people's immigration-related subjective well-being.

  •  Professor Bruno  FreyProfessor Bruno Frey
    Agree
    Free trade in persons offers new opportunities for everyone and therewith raises well-being.

  •  Professor Ada  Ferrer-i-CarbonnellProfessor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
    Agree
    Free movement of people increases not only the wellbeing of those who want to move to seek better opportunities, but in the mid and long term it also increases the average wellbeing of the receiving countries. Although with migration some might win and some might lose the total production in the receiving country increases. In addition, migration also enriches the culture of the receiving country. In the mid and long term, therefore, average wellbeing should increase.

  •  Professor Homa  ZarghameeProfessor Homa Zarghamee
    Neither agree nor disagree
    The UK closing its borders for EU nationals who want to work in the UK is likely to harm the wellbeing of those EU nationals. If the majority of UK nationals want such a policy, it's possible that their SWB increases because national policies are aligned with their preferences even if there are negative economic consequences.

  •  Doctor Esteban  CalvoDoctor Esteban Calvo
    Agree strongly
    Social boundaries, in this case closing country borders, rarely have positive effects when they are built on a strong divide between us and them.

  •  Professor Alois  StutzerProfessor Alois Stutzer
    Neither agree nor disagree
    The well educated British might loose from closing the borders because of higher prices for services produced on a less contested market for personal services. However, the less qualified British at the bottom of the income distribution might benefit (also in terms of employment opportunities) thereby gaining relatively more in terms of wellbeing.