Border Controls, Benefits, and Rights: How States Shape Migration Patterns in a World of Multiple Origins and Destinations

Alicia Adsera, Princeton University
John Palmer, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Mariola Pytlikova, VSB-Technical University of Ostrava

Recent literature on the “welfare magnet” hypothesis posits that migrants are more likely to choose destinations in which they will have greater economic, social and political rights. We argue that eligibility criteria should be taken into account when measuring whether welfare expenditure is indeed a pull factor for immigrants. To study this we estimate a gravity type model of migration flows using: (1) annual data on international migration flows and foreign population stocks in 30 OECD countries from 223 countries of origin for the period 1980-2010; (2) indices of social, economic, and political rights for migrants arriving to OECD countries depending on their country of origin for the years 1965-2009; (3) data from the OECD Social Expenditure Database SOCX 1980-2010 and (4) indices on the restrictiveness of immigration policy. To account for endogeneity of immigrant rights laws and the generosity of the welfare state, we use IV estimators.

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 Presented in Session P6. Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment