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Immigration and the survival of the welfare state

  • Francesc Ortega

This paper analyzes the political sustainability of the welfare state in a model where immigration policy is also endogenous. In the model, the skills of the native population are affected by immigration and skill accumulation. Moreover, immigrants affect future policies, once they gain the right to vote. The main finding is that the long-run survival of redistributive policies is linked to an immigration policy specifying both skill and quantity restrictions. In particular, in steady state the unskilled majority admits a limited inflow of unskilled immigrants in order to offset growth in the fraction of skilled voters and maintain a high degree of income redistribution. Interestingly, equilibrium immigration policy shifts from unrestricted skilled immigration, when the country is skill-scarce, to restricted unskilled immigration, as the fraction of native skilled workers increases. The analysis also suggests a new set of variables that may help explain international differences in immigration restrictions.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 815.

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Date of creation: Dec 2004
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:815
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Razin, A. & Sadka, E. & Swagel, P., 1998. "Tax Burden and Migration: a Political Economy Theory and Evidence," Papers 15-98, Tel Aviv.
  2. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2003. "Heckscher-Ohlin Theory and Individual Attitudes Towards Globalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 4018, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University) and Dani Rodrik (Harvard University), 2005. "Why are some people (and countries) more protectionist than others?," Working Papers gueconwpa~05-05-11, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Ortega, Francesc, 2005. "Immigration quotas and skill upgrading," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1841-1863, September.
  5. Guillermina Jasso & Mark Rosensweig & James P. Smith, 2003. "The Earnings of US immigrants," Labor and Demography 0312007, EconWPA.
  6. Bertocchi, Graziella & Strozzi, Chiara, 2004. "Citizenship laws and international migration in historical perspective
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    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2004-18, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  7. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2003. "The Survival of the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 87-112, March.
  8. Katz, Lawrence F & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78, February.
  9. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Francesc Ortega & Ryuichi Tanaka, 2007. "Gender specialization in households: An empirical analysis," Economics Working Papers 1021, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  11. Per Krusell & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1997. "On the size of U.S. government: political economy in the neoclassical growth model," Staff Report 234, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 705-763, May.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 1998. "On the political economy of immigration and income redistribution," Working Papers 9804, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  15. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1997. "Politico-economic equilibrium and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 243-272, January.
  16. BARBERA, Salvador & MASCHLER, Michael & SHALEV, Jonathan, 1998. "Voting for voters: a model of electoral evolution," CORE Discussion Papers 1998022, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  17. Benhabib, Jess, 1996. "On the political economy of immigration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1737-1743, December.
  18. Hassler, John & Krusell, Per & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2005. "The dynamics of government," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1331-1358, October.
  19. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Papers 630, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  20. repec:rus:hseeco:121615 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. 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.
  22. Kjetil Storesletten, 2000. "Sustaining Fiscal Policy through Immigration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 300-323, April.
  23. Gustavo Ventura & Paul Klein, 2004. "Do Migration Restrictions Matter?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 506, Econometric Society.
  24. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  25. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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