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What drives U.S. immigration policy? Evidence from congressional roll call votes

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  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Steinhardt, Max Friedrich

Abstract

Immigration is today one of the most hotly debated policy issues in the United States. Despite marked divergence of opinion even within political parties, several important reforms have been introduced in the post 1965 era. The purpose of this paper is to carry out a systematic analysis of the drivers of the voting behavior of US representatives on immigration policy in the period 1970-2006, and in particular to assess the role of economic factors at the district level. Our findings suggest that representatives from more skilled labor abundant districts are more likely to support an open immigration policy towards the unskilled, whereas the opposite is true for representatives from more unskilled labor abundant districts. This evidence is robust to the introduction of an array of additional economic and non-economic characteristics of the districts, and suggests that a simple factor analysis model can go a long way in explaining voting on immigration policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich, 2011. "What drives U.S. immigration policy? Evidence from congressional roll call votes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 734-743, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7-8:p:734-743
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration policy Voting Political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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