We analyze a newly available dataset of migration policy decisions reported by governments to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs between 1976 and 2007. We find evidence indicating that most governments have policies aimed at either maintaining the status quo or at lowering the level of migration. We also document variation in migration policy over time and across countries of different regions and income levels. Finally, we examine patterns in various aspects of destination countries' migration policies (policies toward family reunification, temporary vs. permanent migration, high-skilled migration). This analysis leads us to empirically investigate the determinants of destination countries' migration policies. In particular, we examine the link between public opinion toward immigrants and governments' policy decisions. While we find evidence broadly consistent with the median voter model, we conclude that this framework is not sufficient to understand governments' migration policies. We discuss evidence that suggests that interest-groups dynamics may play a very important role.

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doi.org/10.1108/S1574-8715(2010)0000008031, hdl.handle.net/1765/56949
Erasmus School of Economics

Facchini, G., & Mayda, A. M. (2010). What drives immigration policy? Evidence based on a survey of governments' officials. doi:10.1108/S1574-8715(2010)0000008031