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The political economy of trade and migration: Evidence from the US Congress

  • Conconi, Paola
  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Steinhardt, Max Friedrich
  • Zanardi, Maurizio

Over the last decades, the United States has become increasingly integrated in the world economy. Very low trade barriers and comparatively liberal migration policies have made these developments possible. What drove US congressmen to support the recent wave of globalization? While much of the literature has emphasized the differences that exist between the political economy of trade and migration, in this paper we find that important similarities should not be overlooked. In particular, our analysis of congressional voting between 1970 and 2006 suggests that economic drivers that work through the labor market play an important role in shaping representatives' behavior on both types of policies. Representatives from more skilled-labor abundant districts are more likely to support both trade liberalization and a more open stance vis-à-vis unskilled immigration. Still, important systematic differences exist: welfare state considerations and network effects have an impact on the support for immigration liberalization, but not for trade; Democratic lawmakers are systematically more likely to support a more open migration stance than their Republican counterparts, and the opposite is true for trade liberalization.

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Paper provided by Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) in its series HWWI Research Papers with number 136.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:136
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  1. Claudia Goldin, 1994. "The Political Economy of Immigration Restriction in the United States, 1890 to 1921," NBER Chapters, in: The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy, pages 223-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich, 2011. "What drives U.S. immigration policy? Evidence from congressional roll call votes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 734-743, August.
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  18. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2008. "Fast Track Authority and International Trade Negotiations," CEPR Discussion Papers 6790, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Kishore Gawande & Usree Bandyopadhyay, 2000. "Is Protection for Sale? Evidence on the Grossman-Helpman Theory of Endogenous Protection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 139-152, February.
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