The Case for Markets in Citizenship

Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (1):124-136 (2017)
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A number of countries sell citizenship rights to foreign buyers. Gary Becker makes an economic case for the state's sale of citizenship; more recently, Javier Hidalgo has offered a moral defence. However, the private sale of citizenship on a market remains largely unexplored and undefended. This article argues that under certain conditions states ought to permit their citizens to swap citizenship rights with foreigners in exchange for payment. I begin by offering two defeasible reasons to legalize citizenship markets: they would enable mutually beneficial exchange and increase the labour market opportunities of the global poor. I consider a number of counterarguments and conclude that none are dispositive, leaving the case for citizenship markets undefeated.



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Christopher Freiman
College of William and Mary

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