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What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call Votes

  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Steinhardt, Max

Immigration is one of the most hotly debated policy issues in the United States today. Despite marked divergence of opinions within political parties, several important immigration reforms were introduced in the post 1965 era. The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyze the drivers of congressional voting behavior on immigration policy during the period 1970-2006, and in particular, to assess the role of economic factors at the district level. Our findings provide robust evidence that representatives of more skilled labor abundant constituencies are more likely to support an open immigration policy concerning unskilled labor. Thus, a simple factor-proportions-analysis model provides useful insights regarding the policy making process on one of the most controversial facets of globalization.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8299.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8299
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  1. Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University), 2005. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants," Working Papers gueconwpa~05-05-10, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  2. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 14683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
  4. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston, 2000. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0839, Econometric Society.
  5. Facchini, Giovanni & Mayda, Anna Maria & Mishra, Prachi, 2007. "Do Interest Groups Affect Immigration?," IZA Discussion Papers 3183, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2001. "Political economy, sectoral shocks, and border enforcement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(3), pages 612-638, August.
  7. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2005. "Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Policy in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 5058, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. 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.
  9. Gianmarco I P Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2008. "Immigration and National Wages: Clarifying the Theory and the Empirics," Working Papers 2008.77, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  10. Money, Jeannette, 1997. "No Vacancy: The Political Geography of Immigration Control in Advanced Industrial Countries," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(04), pages 685-720, September.
  11. Facchini, Giovanni & Willmann, Gerald, 2005. "The political economy of international factor mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 201-219, September.
  12. George J. Borjas, 2006. "Native Internal Migration and the Labor Market Impact of Immigration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  13. Jorge G. Gonzalez & Nipoli Kamdar, 2000. "Do Not Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor! Determinants of Legislator Voting on Immigration Issues," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 127-143, Spring.
  14. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2007. "Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants? Evidence Across Countries," Development Working Papers 233, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  15. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks in the Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants in the U. S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599.
  16. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1996. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6798, Inter-American Development Bank.
  17. Gordon H. Hanson & Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2005. "Public Finance and Individual Preferences Over Globalization Strategies," Working Papers 524, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  18. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
  19. Timothy J. Hatton, 2004. "Seeking asylum in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 19(38), pages 5-62, 04.
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