Making sense of immigration policy: Argentina, 1870-1930
The aim of this paper is to disentangle the different forces shaping Argentine immigration policy from 1870 to 1930. Although immigration restrictions increased over time Argentina remained relatively open to mass migration until the 1930s in contrast with the United States. The quantitative evidence presented here suggests that there were economic reasons to restrict immigration prior to the 1930s, namely rising inequality and a declining demand for workers. Labour in Argentina would have been better off with a more restrictive immigration policy since 1900. However, labour interests could not be translated into Parliament in a direct way as in countries with a wide electoral franchise and high political participation like the United States. In Argentina a large share of workers did not have the right to vote simply because they were foreigners. Those negatively affected by massive immigration developed alternative actions: general strikes, labour unrest and violence. Political and social fear finally pushed those who had more to gain from an abundant supply of labour to introduce immigration restrictions.
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- Weingast, Barry R. & Wittman, Donald, 2008. "The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199548477, March.
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