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Workers without Borders? Culture, Migration and the Political Limits to Globalization

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  • Sanjay Jain
  • Sumon Majumdar
  • Sharun Mukand

Abstract

This paper examines the role of cultural factors in driving the politics and shape of migration policy. We show that there exists a broad political failure that results in inefficiently high barriers restricting the import of temporary foreign workers and also admitting an inefficiently large number of permanent migrants, but not enough to fill any labor shortage in the economy. We show that countries that are poor at cultural assimilation are better positioned to take advantage of short-term foreign worker programs than more culturally diverse and tolerant countries. A striking implication is that relaxing restrictions on the mobility of migrant workers across employers has the potential to raise host country welfare even though it increases migrant wages and lowers individual firm’s profits. We also demonstrate the existence of multiple equilibria: some countries have mostly temporary migration programs and see a low degree of cultural assimilation by the migrants, while other countries rely more on permanent migrants and see much more assimilation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2954.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2954

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Keywords: international migration; political economy; culture; assimilation; temporary workers;

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  1. Razin, Assaf & Sadka, Efraim & Swagel, Phillip, 2002. "Tax burden and migration: a political economy theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 167-190, August.
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  3. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2005. "Relaxing the Restrictions on the Temporary Movement of Natural Persons: A Simulation Analysis," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 20, pages 688-726.
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  13. Bauer, Thomas K. & Lofstrom, Magnus & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2000. "Immigration Policy, Assimilation of Immigrants and Natives' Sentiments towards Immigrants: Evidence from 12 OECD-Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Geoffrey Carliner, 1995. "The Language Ability of U.S. Immigrants: Assimilation and Cohort Effects," NBER Working Papers 5222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2008. "Wages, Unemployment and Inequality with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers," NBER Working Papers 14122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 1998. "On the political economy of immigration and income redistribution," Working Papers 9804, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  19. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1996. "Globalization, Convergence, and History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 277-306, June.
  20. Facchini, Giovanni & Willmann, Gerald, 2005. "The political economy of international factor mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 201-219, September.
  21. Klein, Paul & Ventura, Gustavo, 2009. "Productivity differences and the dynamic effects of labor movements," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1059-1073, November.
  22. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
  23. István Kónya, 2007. "Optimal Immigration and Cultural Assimilation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 367-391.
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