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The Governance of Migration Policy

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  • Hanson, Gordon H.

Abstract

In this paper, I examine high-income country motives for restricting immigration. Abundant evidence suggests that allowing labor to move from low-income to high-income countries would yield substantial gains in global income. Yet, most high-income countries impose strict limits on labor inflows and set their admission policies unilaterally. A core principle underlying the World Trade Organization is reciprocity in tariff setting. When it comes to migration from poor to rich countries, however, labor flows are rarely bidirectional, making reciprocity moot and leaving labor importers with all the bargaining power. One motivation for barriers to labor inflows is political pressure from groups that are hurt by immigration. Raising immigration would depend on creating mechanisms to transfer income from those that immigration helps to those that it hurts. Another motivation for immigration restrictions is that labor inflows from abroad may exacerbate distortions in an economy associated with redistributive tax and transfer policies. Making immigration more attractive would require creating mechanisms that limit the negative fiscal impacts of labor inflows on natives. Fiscal distortions create an incentive for receiving countries to screen immigrants according to their perceived economic impact. For high skilled immigrants, screening can be based on educational degrees and professional credentials, which are relatively easy to observe. For low skilled immigrants, illegal immigration represents an imperfect but increasingly common screening device. For policy makers in labor-importing nations, the modest benefits freer immigration brings may simply not be worth the political hassle. To induce high-income countries to lower border barriers, they need to get more out of the bargain.

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  • Hanson, Gordon H., 2009. "The Governance of Migration Policy," MPRA Paper 19178, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19178
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    Cited by:

    1. Facchini, Giovanni & Mayda, Anna Maria & Mishra, Prachi, 2011. "Do interest groups affect US immigration policy?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 114-128, September.
    2. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2008. "Why are people more pro-trade than pro-migration?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 160-163, December.
    3. Gil S. Epstein, 2013. "Frontier issues of the political economy of migration," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 22, pages 411-431, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Abdurrahman Aydemir, 2013. "Skill-based immigrant selection and labor market outcomes by visa category," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 23, pages 432-452, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Anna Mayda, 2010. "International migration: a panel data analysis of the determinants of bilateral flows," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(4), pages 1249-1274, September.
    6. Piyasiri Wickramasekara, 2014. "Labour Migration in South Asia: A Review of Issues, Policies and Practices," Working Papers id:6347, eSocialSciences.
    7. Giordani, Paolo E. & Ruta, Michele, 2013. "Coordination failures in immigration policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 55-67.
    8. Mo, Pak Hung, 2011. "International Human Trafficking: Theory and Solution," MPRA Paper 35104, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2011.
    9. Dan-Olof Rooth, 2007. "Implicit Discrimination in Hiring – Real World Evidence," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0705, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    10. Maurizio Bussolo & Johannes Koettl & Emily Sinnott, 2015. "Golden Aging," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 22018, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international migration; labor mobility; political economy; illegal migration;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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