Do Interest Groups Affect Immigration?

65 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2007

See all articles by Giovanni Facchini

Giovanni Facchini

Tinbergen Institute

Anna Maria Mayda

Georgetown University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Prachi Mishra

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department

Date Written: November 2007


While anecdotal evidence suggests that interest groups play a key role in shaping immigration, there is no systematic empirical evidence on this issue. To motivate our analysis, we develop a simple theoretical model where migration policy is the result of the interaction between organized groups with conflicting interests towards labor flows. We evaluate the key predictions of the model using a new, industry-level dataset from the United States that we construct by combining information on the total number of immigrants and H1B visas with data on lobbying expenditures associated with immigration. We find robust evidence that both pro- and anti-immigration interest groups play a statistically significant and economically relevant role in shaping migration across sectors. Barriers to migration are lower in sectors in which business lobbies incur larger lobbying expenditures and higher in sectors where labor unions are more important.

Keywords: immigration, immigration policy, interest groups, political economy

JEL Classification: F22, J61

Suggested Citation

Facchini, Giovanni and Mayda, Anna Maria and Mishra, Prachi, Do Interest Groups Affect Immigration? (November 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3183, Available at SSRN: or

Giovanni Facchini

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA


Anna Maria Mayda (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Prachi Mishra

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

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