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Migration Flows: Political Economy of Migration and the Empirical Challenges

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics
  • Political Science

Abstract

þÿ Migration flows: Political Economy of Migration and the Empirical Challenges Kevin H. O’Rourke Department of Economics and IIIS, Trinity College Dublin and Richard Sinnott Department of Politics and ISSC University College Dublin May 2004 We are grateful to Chris Minns and two anonymous referees for helpful suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies. Abstract Immigration barriers began being erected in the New World in the late 19 century. Theyth were motivated by fears that the immigration of unskilled workers would increase inequality. Controlling for economic factors, there appears to have been little independent role for factors such as racism or xenophobia in driving the retreat from liberal migration policies. A statistical analysis of individual voter attitudes towards immigration in the late 20 century leads toth somewhat different conclusions: nationalism is strongly associated with more hostile attitudes towards immigrants. Heckscher-Ohlin theory and the Borjas theory of immigrant self-selection also help explain individual voter attitudes. Keywords: immigration, political economy, nationalism, Heckscher-Ohlin theory, self-selection Contact details: Kevin H. O’Rourke Department of Economics and IIIS Trinity College Dublin 2 Ireland email: [email protected] Richard Sinnott Department of Politics and ISSC University College Dublin Belfield, Dublin 4 Ireland email: [email protected] Note however that opinion surveys such as these may suffer from ‘hypothetical bias’, in1 that were referenda to take place on (for example) restricting immigration, the actual results might well be quite different. De Melo et al. (2002) found that this hypothetical bias was quite significant in the Swiss case: surveys indicated that a majority there were in favour of a 2000 proposal to reduce the proportion of foreigners in the population, but the proposal was in fact voted down. This discrepancy between ‘hypothetical’ opinion surveys and the real referendum

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