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

  • Facchini, Giovanni

    ()

    (University of Nottingham)

  • Mayda, Anna Maria

    ()

    (Georgetown University)

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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3512.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Policy, No. 56, October 2008, 651 - 713
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3512
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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. 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.
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  8. Graziella Bertocchi & Chiara Strozzi, 2005. "Citizenship Laws and International Migration in Historical Perspective," Working Papers 2005.71, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  9. 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, June.
  10. 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.
  11. Rachel M. Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact Of Mass Migration On The Israeli Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1373-1408, November.
  12. 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.
  13. Barry Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 181-185, May.
  14. 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.
  15. Barry Chiswick & Timothy J.. Hatton, 2003. "International Migration and the Integration of Labor Markets," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 65-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Tim Krieger, 2006. "Public pensions and return migration," Working Papers CIE 2, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  19. 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.
  20. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "Globalization and Capital Markets," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 121-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. 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).
  22. 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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