Rainer Münz and Myron Weiner
Geographic and social mobility are crucial elements characterizing open societies. Democratic societies uphold the right of their citizens to choose their places of residence and places of work, including the right to emigrate to another country. In contrast, totalitarian regimes prevent their citizens from emigrating or even traveling abroad, or force them to settle in certain areas and take up assigned jobs while excluding them from other economic opportunities. During the cold war these restrictions were a source of conflict between East and West. Communist countries rightly feared a mass exodus of dissatisfied citizens, while many people living under communist rule secretly hoped for an opportunity to leave. The Western countries, for their part, made it a point to keep their borders open for migrants from Communist countries, as well as for some of the refugees from other countries with authoritarian regimes or civil wars, such as Chile, El Salvador, and Iran.
The perspective changed dramatically with the fall of the iron curtain, the disappearance of the Soviet Union, and the end of the cold war. Now, many governments of East Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and Latin America regard the possibility of their citizens emigrating to Western Europe or the United States as an opportunity for reducing unemployment, earning remittances, and reducing demographic pressures. The response in