Citizenships should be tradeable

by Axel Boldt

Abstract: People from different countries should be allowed to exchange their citizenships if they so choose. This would substantially increase individual liberty, create a market of citizenships resulting in improved global efficiency, and might lead to a more just distribution of resources.

Two people from different countries who agree to exchange their citizenships should be allowed to do so. If such an exchange is accompanied by a payment, then that's fine too. Like in every business transaction, both parties win.

Allowing citizenship exchanges would substantially enlarge personal freedoms around the world. Obviously, no one is forced to exchange their citizenship -- in a free country, no one should be prevented from doing so either. Existing avenues of immigration/emigration remain in place, so no one loses.

"Globalization" is normally defined as the opening of economies to foreign sellers and producers. There is an obvious imbalance here: capital may freely move across international borders, but labor is supposed to stay put. My proposal would fix this to a degree: the resulting market in citizenships, like any market, would increase global efficiency.

Who in their right mind would want to exchange a first world citizenship with another one? Some examples:

Some people are born into a life of opportunity, freedom and security; others are born into a life of poverty, hard work and misery. The difference is the passport, easily the most valuable thing you own as a citizen of the first world. This unjust distribution of resources may be somewhat alleviated by my proposal:

One might argue that a citizenship should not be a tradeable good since it is a political rather than an economic concept; thus governments should decide who deserves the consequent benefits. I have two counter arguments:

Some technical details best left to bureaucrats:

Last Change: 18-June-2006 .
Written by Axel Boldt
This article is in the public domain.