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The Political Economy of Immigration Policy

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  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Mayda, Anna Maria

Abstract

We analyze a newly available dataset of migration policy decisions reported by governments to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs between 1976 and 2007. We find evidence indicating that most governments have policies aimed at either maintaining the status quo or at lowering the level of migration. We also document variation in migration policy over time and across countries of different regions and income levels. Finally, we examine patterns in various aspects of destination countries’ migration policies (policies towards family reunification, temporary vs. permanent migration, high-skilled migration). This analysis leads us to investigate the determinants of migration policy in a destination country. We develop a political economy framework in which voter attitudes represent a key component. We survey the literature on the determinants of public opinion towards immigrants and examine the link between these attitudes and governments’ policy decisions. While we find evidence broadly consistent with the median voter model, we conclude that this framework is not sufficient to understand actual migration policies. We discuss evidence which suggests that interest-groups dynamics may play a very important role.

Suggested Citation

  • Facchini, Giovanni & Mayda, Anna Maria, 2009. "The Political Economy of Immigration Policy," MPRA Paper 19179, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19179
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2001. "Political economy, sectoral shocks, and border enforcement," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 34(3), pages 612-638, August.
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    5. Mayda, Anna Maria & Rodrik, Dani, 2005. "Why are some people (and countries) more protectionist than others?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1393-1430, August.
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    8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31.
    9. Giovanni Facchini & Cecilia Testa, 2009. "Who Is Against a Common Market?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1068-1100, September.
    10. 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.
    11. Ashley S. Timmer & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1996. "Racism, Xenophobia or Markets? The Political Economy of Immigration Policy Prior to the Thirties," NBER Working Papers 5867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Gordon H. Hanson & Kenneth Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2007. "Public Finance And Individual Preferences Over Globalization Strategies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 1-33, March.
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    14. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
    15. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2001. "Attitudes to Ethic Minorities, Ethnic Context and Location Decisions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 353-373, April.
    16. 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.
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    18. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2004. "Language Skills and Immigrant Adjustment: What Immigration Policy Can Do!," IZA Discussion Papers 1419, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2009. "Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants? Evidence across Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 295-314, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jose Antonio Alonso, 2015. "Managing Labour Mobility: A Missing Pillar of Global Governance," CDP Background Papers 026, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    2. Ismael Issifou & Francesco Magris, 2017. "Migration outflows and optimal migration policy: rules versus discretion," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 16(2), pages 87-112, August.
    3. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2011. "Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 1-32, Spring.
    4. Rayp, Glenn & Ruyssen, Ilse & Standaert, Samuel, 2017. "Measuring and Explaining Cross-Country Immigration Policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 141-163.
    5. Kauder, Björn & Potrafke, Niklas & Ursprung, Heinrich, 2018. "Behavioral determinants of proclaimed support for environment protection policies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 26-41.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; immigration policy; median voter; interest groups; political economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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