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Immigration as a commitment device

  • Alexander Kemnitz


This paper shows that the toleration of immigrants who are on average less skilled than natives can be part of a support-maximizing government policy, despite a general political bias in favor of the poor. We make this point in a simple model with redistributive unemployment insurance. Once wage contracts are binding, the government has an incentive to increase the unemployment benefit, leading to excessive unemployment. Affecting the political balance within the constituency, immigrants can serve as a commitment device against this time-inconsistency. We show that this possibility can be greatly promoted by restrictions on political naturalization.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Population Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 299-313

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:19:y:2006:i:2:p:299-313
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  1. Alexander Kemnitz, 2002. "On the Political Economy of Low Skilled Immigration and the Welfare State," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 423-434, August.
  2. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2004. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Fuest, Clemens & Thum, Marcel, 2001. "Immigration and skill formation in unionised labour markets," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 557-573, September.
  4. Razin, A. & Sadka, E. & Swagel, P., 1998. "Tax Burden and Migration: a Political Economy Theory and Evidence," Papers 15-98, Tel Aviv.
  5. Fuest, Clemens & Thum, Marcel, 2000. "Welfare effects of immigration in a dual labor market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 551-563, September.
  6. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Gerontocracy, Retirement, and Social Security," NBER Working Papers 7117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Paola Profeta, 2002. "Retirement and Social Security in a Probabilistic Voting Model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 331-348, August.
  8. George E. Johnson, 1997. "Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 41-54, Spring.
  9. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
  10. Assar Lindbeck & J├Ârgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  11. Kemnitz, Alexander, 2003. "Unemployment, Technology and the Welfare Effects of Immigration," Discussion Papers 611, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
  12. Casarico, Alessandra & Devillanova, Carlo, 2003. "Social security and migration with endogenous skill upgrading," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 773-797, March.
  13. Mazza, Isidoro & van Winden, Frans, 1996. " A Political Economic Analysis of Labor Migration and Income Redistribution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(3-4), pages 333-63, September.
  14. Bauer, Thomas K. & Lofstrom, Magnus & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2000. "Immigration Policy, Assimilation of Immigrants and Natives' Sentiments towards Immigrants: Evidence from 12 OECD-Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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