Bryan Caplan Discusses Book: ‘Open Borders’

Bryan Caplan Discusses Book: Open Borders

Bryan Caplan, George Mason University economics professor and bestselling author of the graphic novel Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, has a long history with the Institute for Humane Studies. He attended IHS seminars and colloquia dating back to the early 1990s, and met Tyler Cowen through an IHS summer fellows program directed by philosopher Roderick Long.

“The staff at IHS, especially Walter Grinder and Tom Palmer, Rod Long, and the other fellows made every day fun,” Caplan writes in his online GMU bio.

Lurking beneath that fun, however, was a mighty boost for my long-run career. IHS invited weekly speakers. One of them was Prof. Tyler Cowen of George Mason.

-Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan

Caplan spoke with Cowen after his talk, and the two stayed in touch while Caplan pursued his PhD at Princeton. When he completed his PhD, Caplan joined Cowen at the George Mason economics department.

In a recent interview, excerpted in the video below, Caplan spoke about his 30-year history with IHS—including IHS’s recent role in providing funding support for his book, Open Borders.

“I had the idea for a graphic novel, but here’s the thing: the art is actually the most labor-intensive part of the book,” Caplan told us. IHS provided funding support that enabled Caplan to hire Zach Weinersmith, the acclaimed artist behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

With Weinersmith’s help, Open Borders captures “the transformative gain” of bringing additional human beings into our society and economy through immigration.

“People think of there just being this fixed pie of wealth, and if you let in more people you have to share the pie with a larger number of people,” Caplan told us. But that’s just not true, as Open Borders makes clear.

Tyler Cowen called Open Borders “a phenomenal achievement” that “will teach virtually anyone a truly significant amount about the immigration issue, as well as economic analytics more generally.”

You can read more about Bryan Caplan’s Open Borders, and order a copy, on Amazon.

The Institute for Humane Studies is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021. For more spotlights on scholars, faculty partners, video interviews, photo galleries, and in-depth conversations on classical liberal ideas, visit

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