Relevant evidence, reasonable policy and the right to emigrate

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In this article I respond to commentaries by Javier Hidalgo and Phillip Cole. Javier Hidalgo believes that we would be justified in restricting the liberties of health personnel if we had compelling evidence that this would bring about beneficial consequences. He is sceptical that this evidence exists or would ever be forthcoming. Hidalgo therefore supports my position, at least in theory, that where there is good evidence concerning relevant beneficial consequences for remedying important losses associated with high skill migration, we may permissibly restrict health personnel's freedom to migrate through introduction of carefully crafted compulsory service and taxation programmes. So one important issue is whether such evidence is or could ever become available in a form useful to members of government. By contrast, Phillip Cole expresses significant reservations about the policies I argue are permissible under certain conditions. He believes that health workers should never be required to comply with the sorts of taxation and compulsory services programmes I recommend. I show that the programmes for which I argue are not as onerous as Cole imagines and therefore that they can be justified. I also show that relevant evidence exists to address Hidalgo's concerns.

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