We have talked quite a lot about comparative advantage and the benefits of free trade in this class. By focusing on producing what you produce at a lower opportunity cost in comparison to others and trading for things where you have a higher opportunity cost of producing, you can have access to more goods and services than if you tried to produce them all yourself. Another way to think about it is that by putting resources into their best use (produce what you produce relatively well and let others produce what they produce relatively well), more goods and services are obtained from a given amount of resources.
The idea of comparative advantage could also be used to analyze the immigration debate. Immigration has the potential to free native citizens to focus on their comparative advantage, much like hiring additional workers in a firm allows each individual to focus on their own comparative advantage. For example, even though the CEO may type faster that her secretary, she knows that it benefits the company to hire a secretary rather than doing her own typing (the opportunity cost of typing is high for the CEO in comparison to the secretary – the secretary has a comparative advantage in typing).
Recently, there has been heated debate over the issue of immigration. How should U.S. policy toward immigration change – if at all?