Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by David Deese
Chapter 21: The political economy of international migration law
This chapter develops a political economy analysis of international migration, and suggests the implications of this analysis for international legal rules relating to migration. As Grossman and Helpman put it, at the conclusion of their leading work on the political economy of protectionism in trade: A next step might be to assess the relative desirability of alternative international “rules of the game.” Such rules limit the policy choices open to national governments and change the nature of the strategic interactions between elected officials and their constituents. Our framework could be used to generate predictions about what domestic policies will emerge from the political process in different [international] institutional settings, and therefore to evaluate which rules give rise to preferred policy outcomes. Given existing wide disparities in wage rates across borders, global welfare would be greatly increased by permitting greater mobility of labor. However, the international political economy academy and the international law academy have devoted much less attention to migration than to international trade or finance, both theoretically and empirically. The welfare factors themselves are complex and variegated, and welfare analysis would require individual country evaluation, and customized solutions, with the possibility for change over time. Thus, there is no single political economy model that can apply to all states, and no monolithic set of international legal rules that can be advanced as the key to unlocking these great welfare increases.
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