Think of how many people live in Asia, and how few, relatively speaking, live in Latin America.Now, silly me, I thought the threshold question would have been, do Central and South Americans think their countries are "under-populated" and need more Asian immigrants? I'd have thought Central and South Americans are the people whose opinions would matter most on this issue. But since American economists in suburban college towns are so smart, they’re already way ahead of those plodding Latinos and have answered it for them. How long are you Latinos who fought for your own independent governments going to loll about enjoying those abundant natural resources, great climate and rich Catholic culture when there are millions of Asians who could move in?
Latin America has (mostly) beautiful weather, lots of natural resources, and attractive cultural amenities. Mock the living standard all you wish but even Bolivia has higher per capita income than the much better publicized “Asian tiger” Vietnam. The region simply isn’t that poor by global standards.
Crime is a problem but likely will fall, due to aging, better policing, and perhaps lead removal.
What does a Coasian bargain between parts of Asia and Latin America look like? Will many Chinese and Indians end up in Ecuador and Honduras?
I would bet no, but still I wonder. Often we overvalue the permanence of the status quo and the region has seen some major inward migrations in times past.
I bet this sort of presumption goes over real well in Central and South America when American economists like Paul Romer travel south and try to negotiate tax and regulatory-exempt zones for their wealthy tech-entrepeneur friends. (The Honduran Supreme Court recently struck down Romer's scheme, apparently possessed by the crazy idea that the people's sovereign can't just give away their territory.) Speaking of which, the last idealistic American who tried to establish a commercial utopia in the Southern Americas was William Walker, who was executed by a Honduran firing squad in 1860. Middle-aged academic economists from the US should be careful while they're traipsing around Central and South America with their bold visions for the future. Land disputes down there can get pretty complicated, and sometimes violent.