Policy Change and the Politics of Expertise: Economic Ideas and Immigration Control Reforms in Switzerland

Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 1-38, 2007

38 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2006 Last revised: 27 Feb 2011

Date Written: February 24, 2011

Abstract

This article analyses the varying influence across time of the "epistemic community" of free-market economists on immigration policy-making in Switzerland. To that end, a framework for the analysis of the impact of economic expertise is provided, and then used in an historical analysis comparing the 1960s and the 1990s. Whereas this influence was relatively weak in the 1960s, it gained significant importance in the 1990s, when a period of economic unrest seriously challenged previous immigration policies. It is argued that economic experts played an important role in framing the reforms conducted during this latter period, notably by providing a "credible story" on the links between the existing immigration policy and the social problems arisen in the 1990s in this country, notably through the use of public choice economics. As compared to the 1960s, economic expertise in the 1990s enjoyed more credibility, political support, and took advantage of a more uncertain social and economic context.

Keywords: Immigration, Economics, Expertise, Switzerland, Ideas

JEL Classification: A11, F22

Suggested Citation

Afonso, Alexandre, Policy Change and the Politics of Expertise: Economic Ideas and Immigration Control Reforms in Switzerland (February 24, 2011). Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 1-38, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=952218

Alexandre Afonso (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, Zuid Holland 2300 RA
Netherlands

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