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The Political Economy of Immigration Policy

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Author Info

  • Giovanni Facchini

    ()
    (Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Aziendali e Statistiche, Universita’ degli Studi di Milano)

  • Anna Maria Mayda

    ()
    (Department of Economics and School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University)

Abstract

We analyze a newly available dataset of migration policy decisions reported by governments to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs between 1976 and 2007. We find evidence indicating that most governments have policies aimed at either maintaining the status quo or at lowering the level of migration. We also document variation in migration policy over time and across countries of different regions and income levels. Finally, we examine patterns in various aspects of destination countries’ migration policies (policies towards family reunification, temporary vs. permanent migration, high-skilled migration). This analysis leads us to investigate the determinants of migration policy in a destination country. We develop a political economy framework in which voter attitudes represent a key component. We survey the literature on the determinants of public opinion towards immigrants and examine the link between these attitudes and governments’ policy decisions. While we find evidence broadly consistent with the median voter model, we conclude that this framework is not sufficient to understand actual migration policies. We discuss evidence which suggests that interest-groups dynamics may play a very important role.

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File URL: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2009/papers/HDRP_2009_03.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its series Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) with number HDRP-2009-03.

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Length: 61 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision: Apr 2009
Publication status: Published as background research for the 2009 Human Development Report.
Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2009-03

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Keywords: immigration; immigration policy; median voter; interest groups; political economy;

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References

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  1. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "From Individual Attitudes towards Migrants to Migration Policy Outcomes. Theory and Evidence," Development Working Papers 251, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  2. Anna Maria Mayda & Dani Rodrik, 2001. "Why Are Some People (and Countries) More Protectionist Than Others?," NBER Working Papers 8461, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2007. "Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants? Evidence Across Countries," Economics Discussion Papers, University of Essex, Department of Economics 644, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  4. Hanson, G.H. & Spilimbergo, A., 1999. "Political Economy, Sectoral Shocks, and Border Enforcement," Working Papers, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan 449, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  5. Giovanni Facchini & Cecilia Testa, 2009. "Who Is Against a Common Market?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1068-1100, 09.
  6. Dustmann Christian & Preston Ian P, 2007. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-41, November.
  7. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2004. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Chiswick, Barry R. & Hatton, Timothy J., 2002. "International Migration and the Integration of Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 559, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Gordon H. Hanson & Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew Slaughter, 2005. "Public Finance and Individual Preferences over Globalization Strategies," NBER Working Papers 11028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Benhabib, Jess, 1996. "On the political economy of immigration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1737-1743, December.
  11. Claudia Goldin & Gary D. Libecap, 1994. "The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold94-1.
  12. Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "People Flows in Globalization," NBER Working Papers 12315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Richard Sinnott, 2004. "The Determinants of Individual Attitudes Towards Immigration," Trinity Economics Papers, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics 20042, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  14. Prachi Mishra & Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "Do Interest Groups Affect U.S. Immigration Policy?," IMF Working Papers 08/244, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston, 2004. "Is Immigration Good or Bad for the Economy? Analysis of Attitudinal Responses," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0406, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  16. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2004. "Language Skills and Immigrant Adjustment: What Immigration Policy Can Do!," IZA Discussion Papers 1419, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
  18. Facchini, Giovanni & Willmann, Gerald, 2005. "The political economy of international factor mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 201-219, September.
  19. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2001. "Attitudes to Ethic Minorities, Ethnic Context and Location Decisions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 353-73, April.
  20. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2011. "Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 1-32, Spring.

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