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The Political Economy of Immigrationa and Income Redistribution

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  • Jim Dolmas

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas)

  • Gregory W. Huffman

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

In this paper, we study several general equilibrium models in which the agents in an economy must decide on the appropriate level of immigration into the country. Immigration does not enter directly into the native agents' utility functions, and natives have identical preferences over consumption goods. However, natives may be endowed with different amounts of capital, which alone gives rise to alternative levels of desired immigration. We show that the natives' preferences over desired levels of immigration are influenced by the prospect that new immigrants will be voting in the future, which may lead to higher taxation to finance government spending from which they will benefit. We also show that changes in the degree of international capital mobility, the distribution of initial capital among natives, the wealth or poverty of the immigrant pool, and the future voting rights and entitlements of immigrants can all have a dramatic effect on the equilibrium immigration and taxation policies. Both the model and the empirical evidence support the notion that inequality can lead to reduced immigration. The results suggest that opposition to immigration can be mitigated by enhanced capital mobility, as well as from removing some of the benefits that immigrants ultimately receive, either in the form of government transfers, or the franchise to vote.

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File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu03-w12.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0312.

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Date of creation: May 2003
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0312

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Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

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Keywords: Capital mobility; immigration; political economy; taxation; voting;

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References

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  1. Borjas, George J & Freeman, Richard B & Katz, Lawrence, 1996. "Searching for the Effect of Immigration on the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 246-51, May.
  2. Mendoza, Enrique G & Tesar, Linda L, 1998. "The International Ramifications of Tax Reforms: Supply-Side Economics in a Global Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 226-45, March.
  3. Alex Cukierman & Zvi Hercowitz & David Pines, 1994. "The Political Economy of Immigration," Public Economics, EconWPA 9405002, EconWPA.
  4. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1987. "International real business cycles," Working Papers 426, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Michael Ben-Gad, 2000. "An Analysis of Immigration in a Dynamic Macroeconomic Model," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0195, Econometric Society.
  6. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 1997. "On the political economy of immigration," Working Papers 9706, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  7. Baxter, M. & Crucini, M.J., 1990. "Explaining Saving/Investment Correlation," RCER Working Papers 224, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. 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.
  9. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1994. "Dynamics of the Trade Balance and the Terms of Trade: The J-Curve?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 84-103, March.
  10. Topel, Robert H, 1994. "Regional Labor Markets and the Determinants of Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 17-22, May.
  11. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  12. Dolmas, Jim & Huffman, Gregory W., 1997. "The political economy of endogenous taxation and redistribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 223-227, October.
  13. David Card, 1989. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," Working Papers 633, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. James F. Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 2000. "The dynamics of immigration policy with wealth-heterogeneous immigrants," Working Papers 0006, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  15. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  16. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  17. Borjas, G.J. & Freeman, R.B. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "On The Labor Market Effects Of Immigration And Trade," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1556, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  18. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  19. Kjetil Storesletten, 2000. "Sustaining Fiscal Policy through Immigration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 300-323, April.
  20. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," NBER Working Papers 4955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 2004. "On The Political Economy Of Immigration And Income Redistribution," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1129-1168, November.
  22. Mendoza, Enrique G, 1991. "Real Business Cycles in a Small Open Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 797-818, September.
  23. Benhabib, Jess, 1996. "On the political economy of immigration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1737-1743, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Razin, Assaf & Sadka, Efraim & Suwankiri, Benjarong, 2010. "Migration and the Welfare State: Dynamic Political-Economy Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 7996, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Tito Boeri, 2009. "Immigration to the Land of Redistribution," Europe in Question Discussion Paper Series of the London School of Economics (LEQs), London School of Economics / European Institute 5, London School of Economics / European Institute.
  3. Ortega, Francesc, 2005. "Immigration quotas and skill upgrading," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1841-1863, September.
  4. Karin Mayr, 2007. "Immigration and income redistribution: A political economy analysis," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 101-116, April.
  5. Robert Duval-Hernandez & Ferran Martinez i Coma, 2012. "Immigrants' rights and benefits. A public opinion analysis for Spain," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 15-2012, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.

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