Table of Contents

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Migration

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Migration

Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series

Edited by Leila Simona Talani and Simon McMahon

This Handbook discusses theoretical approaches to migration studies in general, as well as confronting various issues in international migration from a distinctive international political economy perspective. It examines migration as part of a global political economy whilst addressing the theoretical debate relating to the capacity of the state to control international migration and the so called ‘policy gap’ or ‘gap hypothesis’ between migration policies and their outcomes.

Chapter 4: Towards a just mobility regime: an applied ethical approach to the study of migrants’ admission – the case of skill selection

Ricard Zapata-Barrero and Francesco Pasetti

Subjects: development studies, migration, politics and public policy, human rights, international politics, political economy, social policy and sociology, migration


Trading with immigrant-citizens is becoming a consolidated pattern of current liberal democracies to such an extent that international migration and human capital are emerging as the most important form of wealth for Western states. Against this background the current trend in migration policy is moving towards greater selectivity. Our initial concern is that such conduct, regarding state behavior towards migratory flows, is being done without any ethical assessment. International law is proving to be inefficient to limit the scope of state action, highlighting the fact that we are now in a historical migratory phase characterized by the predominance of an ‘anything goes’ scenario (Zapata-Barrero 2012). This new paradigm of international relations, in which migrants become commodities in a diplomatic trade-off, is also becoming politically accepted as the inevitable consequence of realpolitik if we want well-ordered migratory flows and to regulate them according to our own interests. Moving from the questions that such a paradigm raises about the moral limits of state behavior, this chapter seeks to problematize current practices of admission, in which national interest constitutes the only criteria of selection and the effects of international migration are evaluated merely on the base of citizens’ conception of the good; what Zapata-Barrero (2010) defined as deontological and consequentialist nationalism.

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