From Individual Attitudes towards Migrants to Migration Policy Outcomes: Theory and Evidence
Anna Maria Mayda
Georgetown University - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Economic Policy, Vol. 23, Issue 56, pp. 651-713, October 2008
Giovanni Facchini and Anna Maria MaydaWe are experiencing a wave of globalization that includes everything but labour. In this paper, we argue that this is the result of restrictive migration policies implemented by destination countries. In democratic societies individual attitudes of voters represent the foundations of policy making. To understand policy outcomes, we analyse the patterns and determinants of voters opinions on immigration. We find that, across countries of different income levels, only a small minority of voters favour more open policies. Furthermore, our analysis supports the role played by economic channels in shaping public opinion. We next investigate how attitudes translate into policy outcomes, considering two alternative frameworks: the median voter and the interest groups model. On the one hand, the very low percentages of voters favouring immigration are, in light of the existing restrictive policies, consistent with the median voter framework. At the same time, given the extent of opposition to immigration that appears in public opinion, it is somewhat surprising in a median voter framework that immigration takes place at all. We find that interest-groups dynamics have the potential to explain this puzzle.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 2, 2008
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