Panel Paper: The Market Model: Immigration Regime Variation and Convergence in 30 Countries

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Marriott Balcony A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Justin Gest, George Mason University and Anna Boucher, University of Sydney

How do immigration regimes differ across destination states? And why do states govern immigration in different ways? These rather basic questions have gone unanswered because we lack a means of reliably measuring and validly classifying migration regimes across the governance spectrum. As a result, migration researchers have been unable to conduct the kind of broad comparative research that characterizes studies of labor markets, welfare provisions, or health care policy. Relatedly, researchers have had difficulty accounting for variation in migration regime outcomes as an explanatory factor in their analyses of other social, economic, and political phenomena. In response to this gap, this paper outlines an empirical outcome-based definition of a “regime”, applies it to 30 countries’ immigration demographics, derives a taxonomy of immigration regimes, and develops some preliminary explanations for what drives the variation in outcomes across borders. We find that the world’s most prominent immigration regimes are converging toward elevated numbers of temporary immigrants, a focus on labor immigration through economic visas and free movement agreements, forms of tacitly ethnicity-based selection, and dropping naturalization rates. Relative to the openness and permanence of the “Liberal” Model that epitomized the immediate post-Cold War period, this emerging approach embodies what we refer to as a “Market Model” that reflects the increasingly contingent nature of labor markets worldwide.