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Immigration control and the welfare state

  • Myers, Gordon M.
  • Papageorgiou, Yorgos Y.

We examine immigration policy and its redistributive effects using a model of a rich country which must spend on border control in order to regulate immigration from a poor country. There are owners and workers in the rich country, and a public sector whi ch makes redistributive transfers from owners to workers. We first consider the case where illegal immigrants have access to the public sector, a situation currently observed in many countries. We show that as border control becomes more expensive inequal ity in the rich country increases, redistributive transfers may increase or decrease, some immigration is permitted and foreign aid may be used by the rich country in order to reduce the migration pressure along its border with the poor country. Because of nonconvexities, we also show that a small decrease in the aversion to inequality or a small increase in the poor country's population can lead to the collapse of the redistributive public sector. We then consider excluding illegal immigrants from the pu blic sector (e.g. California Proposition 187). We find that the possibility of collapse vanishes and that the rich country takes the toughest official stance on immigration but does not enforce it with border controls.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V76-3Y6Y746-2/2/f1eeca44b5fde97250502d05b5815107
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 75 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 183-207

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:75:y:2000:i:2:p:183-207
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Wildasin, D.E., 1992. "Income Restribution and Migration," Papers 92-003, Indiana - Center for Econometric Model Research.
  2. Wellisch, Dietmar & Wildasin, David E., 1996. "Decentralized income redistribution and immigration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 187-217, January.
  3. Bond, Eric W. & Chen, Tain-Jy, 1987. "The welfare effects of illegal immigration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 315-328, November.
  4. Klaus F. Zimmermann, 1995. "Tackling the European Migration Problems," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 45-62, Spring.
  5. Myers, G.M. & Mansoorian, A., 1995. "On the Consequences of Government Objectives for Economies with Mobile Populations," Papers 95-2, York (Canada) - Department of Economics.
  6. Djajic, Slobodan, 1987. "Illegal aliens, unemployment and immigration policy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 235-249, February.
  7. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
  8. Chiswick, Barry R, 1988. "Illegal Immigration and Immigration Control," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 101-15, Summer.
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