DP9270 The political economy of trade and migration: Evidence from the U.S. Congress

Author(s): Paola Conconi, Giovanni Facchini, Max Steinhardt, Maurizio Zanardi
Publication Date: December 2012
Date Revised: May 2018
Keyword(s): immigration reforms, roll-call votes, trade reforms
JEL(s): F1, F22
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9270

We systematically examine the drivers of U.S. congressmen's votes on trade and migration reforms since the 1970's. Standard trade theory suggests that reforms that lower barriers to goods and migrants should have similar distributional effects, hurting low-skilled U.S. workers while benefitting high-skilled workers. In line with this prediction, we find that House members representing more skilled-labor abundant districts are more likely to support both trade and migration liberalization. Still, important differences exist: Democrats favor trade reforms less than Republicans, while the opposite is true for immigration reforms; welfare state considerations and network effects shape support for immigration, but not for trade.