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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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gil S. Epstein, 2013. "Frontier issues of the political economy of migration," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 22, pages 411-431, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    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. Brunner, Beatrice & Kuhn, Andreas, 2014. "Immigration, Cultural Distance and Natives' Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Evidence from Swiss Voting Results," IZA Discussion Papers 8409, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    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," NRN working papers 2012-04, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    5. 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.
    6. Hessami, Zohal & Resnjanskij, Sven, 2019. "Complex ballot propositions, individual voting behavior, and status quo bias," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 82-101.
    7. 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.
    8. Bargain, Olivier & Stephane, Victor & Valette, Jérôme, 2021. "Another Brick in the Wall. Immigration and Electoral Preferences: Direct Evidence from State Ballots," IZA Discussion Papers 14233, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Spiros Bougheas & Douglas R. Nelson, 2012. "On the Political Economy of High Skilled Migration and International Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 3880, CESifo.
    10. 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.
    11. Tobias Müller & Silvio Hong Tiing Tai, 2020. "Individual attitudes towards migration: A re‐examination of the evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(4), pages 1663-1702, November.
    12. Jackline Wahba & Ishac Diwan & Michele Tuccio, 2017. "Diaspora Networks as a Bridge between Civilizations," Working Papers 1094, Economic Research Forum, revised 05 Nov 2017.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration policy; Political economy; Voting; Attitudes towards migration;
    All these keywords.

    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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