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From individual attitudes towards migrants to migration policy outcomes: Theory and evidence

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  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Mayda, Anna Maria

Abstract

In democratic societies individual attitudes of voters represent the foundations of policy making. We start by analyzing patterns in public opinion on migration and find that, across countries of different income levels, only a small minority of voters favour more open migration policies. Next we investigate the determinants of voters' preferences towards immigration from a theoretical and empirical point of view. Our analysis supports the role played by economic channels (labour market, welfare state, efficiency gains) using both the 1995 and 2003 rounds of the ISSP survey. The second part of the paper examines how attitudes translate into a migration policy outcome. We consider two alternative political-economy frameworks: the median voter and the interest groups model. On the one hand, the restrictive policies in place across destination countries and the very low fractions of voters favouring immigration are consistent with the median voter framework. At the same time, given the extent of individual-level opposition to immigration that appears in the data, it is somewhat puzzling, in a median-voter perspective, that migration flows take place at all. Interest-groups dynamics have the potential to explain this puzzle. We find evidence from regression analysis supporting both political-economy frameworks.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6835.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6835

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Keywords: Immigration; Immigration Policy; Interest Groups; Median Voter; Political Economy;

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References

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  1. Tim Krieger, 2006. "Public pensions and return migration," Working Papers CIE 2, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  2. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2007. "Why Are People More Pro-trade Than Pro-migration?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6351, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  21. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  22. Jaya Krishnakumar & Tobias Muller, 2007. "Participation and voting behavior in a direct democracy: a structural model of migration policy in Switzerland," Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva 2007.01, Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève.
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  1. "The Rhetoric of Closed Borders"
    by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2011-04-28 07:15:00
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