How Migrating Overseas Shapes Political Preferences: Evidence from a Field Experiment

76 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2021 Last revised: 18 Jan 2024

See all articles by Nikhar Gaikwad

Nikhar Gaikwad

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Kolby Hanson

Government of the United States of America - Department of Policy and Strategy

Aliz Toth

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government

Date Written: March 1, 2019

Abstract

Debates about how immigration affects the welfare state have often emphasized migrants’ demands for high levels of redistribution. While existing work has examined natives’ attitudes toward the welfare state, we know very little about migrants’ preferences about redistribution and how these are shaped by the experience of migration. This paper demonstrates that access to overseas employment reduces support for taxation and redistribution by bolstering individuals’ economic independence. We present results from a randomized controlled trial to facilitate migration from India to the Middle East for work. The intervention resulted in high rates of cross-border migration and significantly reduced support for taxation and redistribution among migrants, but not among their left-behind family members. We show that both migrants and their family members registered significant economic gains. We attribute their diverging redistribution preferences to migrants’ increasing financial independence from earnings compared to family members’ increasing dependence on remittances. Our results speak to longstanding debates about how economic gains shape preferences for redistribution and shed new light on the micro-level mechanisms by which globalization impacts welfare state politics.

Keywords: Globalization, Migration, Economic Policy Preferences, Taxation and Redistribution, Field Experiments

Suggested Citation

Gaikwad, Nikhar and Hanson, Kolby and Toth, Aliz, How Migrating Overseas Shapes Political Preferences: Evidence from a Field Experiment (March 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3816464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3816464

Nikhar Gaikwad (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Kolby Hanson

Government of the United States of America - Department of Policy and Strategy

Aliz Toth

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government ( email )

London
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://aliztoth.com

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