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The Political Economy of Immigration Policy

  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Mayda, Anna Maria

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.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19179.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19179
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  1. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2004. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "From individual attitudes towards migrants to migration policy outcomes: Theory and evidence," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 651-713, October.
  3. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston, 2004. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0401, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  4. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2007. "Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants? Evidence Across Countries," Development Working Papers 233, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  5. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda & Prachi Mishra, 2009. "Do Interest Groups affect US Immigration Policy?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0904, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  6. Claudia Goldin & Gary D. Libecap, 1994. "The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold94-1, June.
  7. Mayda, Anna Maria & Rodrik, Dani, 2001. "Why are Some People (and Countries) More Protectionist than Others?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2960, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. 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, 03.
  9. Facchini, Giovanni & Testa, Cecilia, 2008. "Who is Against a Common Market?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6847, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Facchini, Giovanni & Willmann, Gerald, 2005. "The political economy of international factor mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 201-219, September.
  11. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston, 2004. "Is Immigration Good or Bad for the Economy? Analysis of Attitudinal Responses," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0406, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  12. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Splimbergo, 1999. "Political Economy, Sectoral Shocks, and Border Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 7315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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).
  14. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2004. "Language Skills and Immigrant Adjustment: What Immigration Policy Can Do!," IZA Discussion Papers 1419, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 1998. "Attitudes to Ethnic Minorities, Ethnic Context and Location Decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 1942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Benhabib, Jess, 1996. "On the political economy of immigration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1737-1743, December.
  17. 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.
  18. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31, February.
  19. Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "People Flows in Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 145-170, Spring.
  20. 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.
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