Dynamist Blog

Poaching Doctors

In a post about Robert Nozick's "Wilt Chamberlain" argument against progressive taxation, Tyler Cowen lays out a milder version of the case, starting with this principle: "A doctor is not required to devote his entire life, or even a part of it, to helping poor kids in Africa, even if he could create greater good by doing so. Personal autonomy matters." Tyler's discussion, and the comments, are worth reading for their own sake, but I was particularly struck by how his seemingly obvious first principle has recently been contradicted--by complaints that African-born doctors are being "poached" by developed countries and should stay where they are. In the LAT, Kerry Howley examines the argument and finds, aside from the moral effrontery of it, an interesting empirical regularity: The African countries that send the most medical professionals abroad are also those that have the most medical professionals per capita.

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