International Handbook on the Economics of Migration
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International Handbook on the Economics of Migration

Edited by Amelie F. Constant and Klaus F. Zimmermann

Migration economics is a dynamic, fast-growing research area with significant and rising policy relevance. While its scope is continually extending, there is no authoritative treatment of its various branches in one volume. Written by 44 leading experts in the field, this carefully commissioned and refereed Handbook brings together 28 state-of-the-art chapters on migration research and related issues.
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Chapter 22: Frontier issues of the political economy of migration

Gil S. Epstein


Political economy plays an important role in migration. Basic economic theory provides many predictions with regard to the costs and benefits of migrants to home and host countries. Migration affects production, employment and wages, assimilation and attitudes towards migration, economic behavior of the local population and migrants, international trade, and so on in both the host and home counties. Assuming that the goal is to maximize social welfare, countries could, in theory, derive their optimal economic policy. However, reality is not always what the theory predicts. How is it possible that two countries with similar economic circumstances have different outcomes from a similar migration quota or may enact different migration policies? How is it that migration policy shifts in a short period of time while there have been very small changes in the economic environment? Is this simply a result of a change in the ruling politician or coalitions? Why do similar countries elect parties with very different political platforms? The answer to these and many other questions are related to the political economy environment.

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