The Distinct Political Economies of Trade and Migration Policy: Through the Window of Endogenous Policy Models, with a Focus on North America

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Abstract

The domestic politics of international trade seem to differ in fundamental ways from the domestic politics of immigration, but it is difficult to say exactly how and, more importantly, why. This paper uses a common frame of reference, simple endogenous policy models, as a way into this issue. These models capture the essential insight underlying much political economy analysis that material interests drive policy preferences. Part of the claim made in this paper is that trade politics appear to be essentially about material interest, while immigration politics are not. Related to this claim, however, is the complementary claim that the politics of these two seemingly similar issues are also organized in fundamentally different ways. The argument proceeds in five parts. The first part describes the general structure of endogenous policy models; the second provides a brief overview of theoretical and empirical work on trade; the third provides a similar overview of contemporary research on immigration politics; the fourth compares the political structures of the politics in these two domains; the fifth part concludes.