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The political economy of immigration in a direct democracy: The case of Switzerland

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  • Krishnakumar, Jaya
  • Müller, Tobias

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze the determination of immigration policy in a direct democracy setting. We formulate a model of voting and participation behavior integrating instrumental and expressive motivations. The model is estimated using data drawn from a survey carried out after a vote in Switzerland in 2000 on a popular initiative proposing to implement immigration restrictions. The model enables us to recover estimates of participation costs and preferences towards immigration and analyze how these preferences are translated into actual voting outcomes. The results reveal a substantial gap (“participation bias”) between attitudes towards immigration in the general population (43% favorable to restrictions) and the outcome of the vote (26%).

Suggested Citation

  • Krishnakumar, Jaya & Müller, Tobias, 2012. "The political economy of immigration in a direct democracy: The case of Switzerland," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 174-189.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:2:p:174-189
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2011.09.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bougheas, Spiros & Nelson, Doug, 2013. "On the political economy of high skilled migration and international trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 206-224.
    2. Facchini, Giovanni & Mayda, Anna Maria & Mishra, Prachi, 2011. "Do interest groups affect US immigration policy?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 114-128, September.
    3. Zohal Hessami, 2016. "How Do Voters React to Complex Choices in a Direct Democracy? Evidence from Switzerland," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 263-293, May.
    4. Martin Halla & Alexander F. Wagner & Josef Zweimüller, 2012. "Does Immigration into Their Neighborhoods Incline Voters Toward the Extreme Right? The Case of the Freedom Party of Austria," Economics working papers 2012-05, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    5. Brunner, Beatrice & Kuhn, Andreas, 2014. "Immigration, Cultural Distance and Natives' Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Evidence from Swiss Voting Results," IZA Discussion Papers 8409, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Martin Halla & Alexander F. Wagner & Josef Zweimüller, 2012. "Immigration and voting for the extreme right," ECON - Working Papers 083, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2013.
    7. Jackline Wahba & Ishac Diwan & Michele Tuccio, 2017. "Diaspora Networks as a Bridge between Civilizations," Working Papers 1094, Economic Research Forum, revised 05 Nov 2017.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration policy; Political economy; Voting; Attitudes towards migration;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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