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From Individual Attitudes towards Migrants to Migration Policy Outcomes. Theory and Evidence

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  • Giovanni Facchini

    (University of Milan, University of Essex, LdA, CEPR and CES-Ifo)

  • Anna Maria Mayda

    (Georgetown University and LdA)

Abstract

In democratic societies individual attitudes of voters represent the foundations of policy making. We start by analyzing patterns in public opinion on migration and find that, across countries of different income levels, only a small minority of voters favour more open migration policies. Next we investigate the determinants of voters\' preferences towards immigration from a theoretical and empirical point of view. Our analysis supports the role played by economic channels (labour market, welfare state, efficiency gains) using both the 1995 and 2003 rounds of the ISSP survey. The second part of the paper examines how attitudes translate into a migration policy outcome. We consider two alternative political-economy frameworks: the median voter and the interest groups model. On the one hand, the restrictive policies in place across destination countries and the very low fractions of voters favouring immigration are consistent with the median voter framework. At the same time, given the extent of individual-level opposition to immigration that appears in the data, it is somewhat puzzling, in a median-voter perspective, that migration flows take place at all. Interest-groups dynamics have the potential to explain this puzzle. We find evidence from regression analysis supporting both political-economy frameworks.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "From Individual Attitudes towards Migrants to Migration Policy Outcomes. Theory and Evidence," Development Working Papers 251, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:251
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration; Immigration Policy; Median Voter; Interest Groups; Political Economy;
    All these keywords.

    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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