Table of Contents

Handbook on Migration and Social Policy

Handbook on Migration and Social Policy

Edited by Gary P. Freeman and Nikola Mirilovic

In this detailed Handbook, an interdisciplinary team of scholars explores the consequences of migration for the social policies of rich welfare states. They test conflicting claims as to the positive and negative effects of different types of migration against the experience of countries in Europe, North America, Australasia, the Middle East and South Asia. The chapters assess arguments as to migration’s impact on the financial, social and political stability of social programs. The volume includes comprehensive reviews of existing scholarship as well as state of the art original empirical analysis.

Chapter 15: Does immigration affect preferences for redistribution? Evidence across countries

Giovanni Facchini, Anna Maria Mayda and Elie Murard

Subjects: politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, welfare states


One important question in the economics literature is whether free markets and governments are complements or substitutes. In international economics, free markets imply openness to trade and migration. Thus, in the current international context, the question is whether globalization entails an increase or a decrease in the size of the government. Previous work in the trade literature (see, e.g., Rodrik 1998; Mayda et al. 2012) shows that big governments can bolster support for globalization by reducing the risk associated with it in the minds of voters. For example, Mayda et al. 2012 find that the positive impact of risk aversion on anti-trade attitudes is smaller in countries with higher levels of government expenditure. In this chapter, we ask a related question – specifically, about the relationship between globalization and redistribution – but we focus on immigration. In particular we study the impact of international migration on public opinion towards redistribution. We investigate how individual-level attitudes towards redistribution depend on the respondent’s skill level, and on the skill composition of migration in the location where the respondent lives. We construct measures of the skill composition of migration at the NUTS-1 European regional level using data from the European Labor Force Survey (ELFS) and merge them with information on individual-level variables – such as attitudes towards redistribution and socio-economic background of European respondents – from the European Social Survey (ESS).

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