How Overseas Opportunities Shape Political Preferences: A Field Experiment on International Migration

70 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2021 Last revised: 8 Feb 2022

See all articles by Nikhar Gaikwad

Nikhar Gaikwad

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Kolby Hanson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Aliz Toth

Stanford University

Date Written: March 1, 2019

Abstract

Scholars have long debated how globalization shapes support for the welfare state. We ask how cross-border mobility influences the attitudes of a group at the center of global integration: labor migrants. To overcome the inferential challenges in comparing migrants and non-migrants, we conducted to our knowledge the first randomized controlled trial on the political effects of international migration. Partnering with local governmental and non-governmental organizations in Mizoram, India, we connected individuals seeking overseas employment with well-paying hospitality sector jobs in the Persian Gulf. We tracked subjects' economic trajectories and political attitudes throughout the migration process. The opportunity to move overseas substantially improved individuals' economic standing and confidence, more than doubling wages in the treatment group. Importantly, these opportunities significantly reduced support for taxation and redistribution, even for those who did not migrate. Our results illustrate how both the economic benefits and the ``exit option'' of migration alter individuals' political preferences.

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

Suggested Citation

Gaikwad, Nikhar and Hanson, Kolby and Toth, Aliz, How Overseas Opportunities Shape Political Preferences: A Field Experiment on International Migration (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

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Aliz Toth

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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