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The Political Economy of EU Enlargement: Lessons from Switzerland


  • de Melo, Jaime
  • Miguet, Florence
  • Müller, Tobias


The issue of the free movement of persons occupies center stage in the negotiations on EU enlargement. Opinion polls and household surveys reveal that a majority of EU citizens are fearful of the consequences of the free movement of persons. Influenced by these surveys, the EU Commission and several studies have reviewed the pros and cons of alternative flexible transitional arrangement proposals ranging from the current bilateral guest-worker arrangements practiced by some EU members to the establishment of fixed quotas during a limited period of time. These suggestions are reminiscent of the Swiss experience with immigration. At the same time, under the system of direct democracy, the Swiss electorate has voted regularly since 1970 on the policies towards immigrants and on the shape of immigration policy. The Paper reviews the Swiss experience with immigration policy and draws on the unique direct-democracy setting to bypass the problem of ‘hypothetical bias’ plaguing the analysis of conventional survey data. Determinants of attitudes towards immigration are analysed using individual-level survey data for 2000.

Suggested Citation

  • de Melo, Jaime & Miguet, Florence & Müller, Tobias, 2002. "The Political Economy of EU Enlargement: Lessons from Switzerland," CEPR Discussion Papers 3449, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3449

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2002. "EU Enlargement and the Future of the Welfare State," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(1), pages 104-115, February.
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    4. 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).
    5. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-985, December.
    6. Jaya Krishnakumar & Tobias Muller, 2007. "Participation and voting behavior in a direct democracy: a structural model of migration policy in Switzerland," Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva 2007.01, Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève.
    7. Schiff, Maurice, 1999. "Labor market integration in the presence of social capital," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2222, The World Bank.
    8. Hans-Werner Sinn & Gebhard Flaig & Martin Werding & Sonja Munz & Nicola Düll & Herbert Hofmann, 2001. "EU-Erweiterung und Arbeitskräftemigration : Wege zu einer schrittweisen Annäherung der Arbeitsmärkte," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 2, April.
    9. Jean-Marie Grether & Jaime de Melo & Tobias Müller, 2015. "The Political Economy of International Migration in a Ricardo–Viner Model," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Developing Countries in the World Economy, chapter 17, pages 411-437 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    10. Hillman, Arye L. & Weiss, Avi, 1999. "A theory of permissible illegal immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 585-604, November.
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    12. Ira N. Gang & Francisco Rivera-Batiz, 1996. "Unemployment and Attitudes Towards Foreigners in the European Union: A Statistical Analysis," Departmental Working Papers 199612, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    13. Benhabib, Jess, 1996. "On the political economy of immigration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1737-1743, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "From individual attitudes towards migrants to migration policy outcomes: Theory and evidence," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 651-713, October.
    2. Tobias Müller & Silvio H. T. Tai, 2010. "Who Opposes Immigrants' Integration into the Labor Market? The Swiss Case," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 146(IV), pages 741-767, December.
    3. Kévin H. O’Rourke & Richard Sinnott, 2004. "Flux migratoires : économie politique de la migration et enjeux empiriques," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 12(3), pages 45-76.
    4. Miguet, Florence, 2008. "Voting about immigration policy: What does the Swiss experience tell us?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 628-641, September.
    5. Silvio Tai, 2009. "Market structure and the link between migration and trade," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 145(2), pages 225-249, July.

    More about this item


    Direct democracy; hypothetical bias; immigration;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • 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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