Dr. Bryan Caplan had an extremely successful year despite the world’s troubles. Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, his new work on the social science and philosophy of immigration, made the New York Times Bestseller List when it released in October 2019. The book received rave reviews from The Economist and The New Yorker, as well as many eminent economists, including John Cochrane and Jason Furman. Even Foreign Policy invited him to elaborate on his main arguments. Open Borders spent months on Amazon’s list of top immigration books – and made Intelligence Squared’s list of “20 Books to Raise Your IQ This Summer.”
Dr. Caplan spent most of September-February promoting this new book, doing scores of interviews with traditional and online media. Simultaneously, he continued work on his next book project, entitled Poverty: Who to Blame. Poverty will combine economic philosophy with economics, sociology, psychology, social work, history, and anthropology to answer some timeless questions, including: “Why does poverty persist?”, “Who is morally responsible for poverty’s continued existence?”, and “What, if anything, can be done about it?”
The book begins by reviving and defending the classic distinction between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. Then it will apply the distinction to the real world, focusing on bad economic policy in the Third World, immigration restrictions (and housing regulation) in the First World, and irresponsible personal behavior around the world. Dr. Caplan concluded his broad reading phase about six months ago, and has been writing ever since. Thanks to his Spring sabbatical, he’s been able to finish the Introduction and Chapter 1 despite the ravages of COVID-19.
Dr. Caplan has also begun writing a second non-fiction graphic novel on housing regulation, tentatively titled, Build, Baby, Build: The Science and Ethics of Housing. This book will introduce readers to the last two decades worth of research on the immense economic damage of zoning and land-use policies. As he’ll explain, these policies do not merely greatly inflate the cost-of-living in America’s most desirable locations; they also sharply reduce workforce productivity by discouraging migration to high-productivity regions of the country. His hope is that a graphic format will “make seen the unseen” – to help readers appreciate the massive economic benefits of housing deregulation. He’s now finished the first chapter and is shopping around for an illustrator to bring the project to life.