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

  • Giovanni Facchini


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

  • Anna Maria Mayda


    (Georgetown University and LdA)

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.

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Paper provided by Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano in its series Development Working Papers with number 251.

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Length: 56
Date of creation: 30 Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:251
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  1. 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.
  2. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Sinnott, Richard, 2006. "The determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 838-861, December.
  3. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2002. "People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes," NBER Working Papers 9237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  6. Bertocchi, Graziella & Strozzi, Chiara, 2004. "Citizenship Laws and International Migration in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 4737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2002. "Globalization and Capital Markets," NBER Working Papers 8846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Anna Maria Mayda, 2007. "International migration: A panel data analysis of the determinants of bilateral flows," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0707, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  9. Tim Krieger, 2006. "Public pensions and return migration," Working Papers CIE 2, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  10. Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "People Flows in Globalization," NBER Working Papers 12315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 510-530, August.
  12. Chiswick, Barry R. & Hatton, Timothy J., 2002. "International Migration and the Integration of Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 559, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hamilton, Bob & Whalley, John, 1984. "Efficiency and distributional implications of global restrictions on labour mobility : Calculations and policy implications," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 61-75.
  15. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Why are people more pro-trade than pro-migration?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0611, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  16. 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).
  17. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-53, September.
  18. Michael D. Bordo & Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Globalization in Historical Perspective," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord03-1, December.
  19. Barry Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 181-185, May.
  20. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1373-1408 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. 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.
  22. Hanson, Gordon H., 2005. "Why Does Immigration Divide America? Public Finance and Political Opposition to Open Borders," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 4000.
  23. Ximena Clark & Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Where Do U.S. Immigrants Come From, and Why?," NBER Working Papers 8998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. 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.
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