JEMS Special Issue: The public and the politics of immigration controls

jemsThe JEMS special issue “The public and the politics of immigration controls” is now available. The contributions to the special issue question the received wisdom that the public in Europe and the United States have negative attitudes towards immigration, and that governments necessarily react to these attitudes by introducing stricter immigration policies.

The special issue in JEMS covers the US, UK, and the Netherlands, as well as a comparative study by Laura Morales, Jean-Benoit Pilet et myself. We use data from the SOM project and MIPEX to examine the opinion-policy gap in seven countries, 1995 to 2010.

Explaining MIPEX Scores with Patterns of Democracy

I’m always happy to see research published that I hoped to get done ‘one of theses days’. A recent paper in West European Politics uses a sophisticated model to statistically explain immigration policies using patterns of democracy. Different aspects of democracy are associated in different ways, but I’m a bit puzzled by the decision of the authors to downplay the influence of GDP. Perhaps there’s still a difference between political science and sociology after all, and institutional differences count more, so to speak, than for example a modernization thesis.

Wasn’t it already published, I’d include this paper as an example in my recent paper on recombining MIPEX. It’s just one of these instances where aggregated MIPEX scores (and in the supplementary material MIPEX dimensions) are used. Well, if you’re not into recombining MIPEX, a look at a pure reliability assessment of MIPEX might have helped making a slightly stronger case. With just 30 countries, more sensitivity analysis would also help. For instance, is there something about “settler legacies” or is it just Anglosaxon countries with a longer tradition of regulating race and ethnicity — something that MIPEX honours?

Future efforts should make use of the fact that MIPEX data have been collected over time, which makes for stronger conclusions (institutions or otherwise). They may also use theory other than the empirically refuted assumption that proportional systems are good for all kinds of minorities under all circumstance. Irrespective of these quibbles, with the paper by Anita Manatschal and Julian Bernauer we have a good basis to build on.

MIPEX in Switzerland: Some Clarifications

The Sonntags Zeitung was kind enough to comment on the recent release of MIPEX data in Switzerland. Unfortunately they seem more interested in the ranking than the details. The summary is roughly correct: it speaks of the immigrant integration policy framework.

The basic argument in the newspaper is logically incoherent, though: an index that places Switzerland behind France cannot be right, because France is struggling with integrating its immigrants (while there are no open conflicts in Switzerland). The editorial asks a series of questions about actual integration (“do we manage to integrate the many immigrants that arrive?”), not the policy framework. It refers to the high levels of youth unemployment among immigrants in France, but fails to connect this number to the youth unemployment in France more generally. Unemployment levels are generally much lower in Switzerland, but even this is beyond the point as it looks at outcomes and not the policy framework — this is what MIPEX does. Once immigrant policies and outcomes are conflated, it is easy to say that “there’s something wrong with these integration indicators” — well, that’s not what they are.

The main article provides a (factual) list of the main results and the positions of the MPG which are regarded rather critically. It would have been nice to distinguish between the indicators and the interpretations thereof (the ranking, “too restrictive”, “too many hurdles”), but to be fair, the way the MIPEX is usually presented this distinction is often blurred.

MIPEX Results for Switzerland

I have been writing about MIPEX quite a bit recently, not least since we published how the MIPEX scores changed over time since 1848. The latest (official) MIPEX results for Switzerland are now out (along with a new look), although it’ll be a while until all country scores are available.

New is the addition of “health”, a policy area we didn’t consider in the SPSR article. It happens to be an area where Switzerland does comparatively well — also an area where there was a great deal of effort in the past few years. The way new policy areas can be added to the MIPEX on a whim illustrates that the overall score should always be treated with a grain of salt. On the other hand, more indicators are great news for those willing to spend a little bit of time to re-combine the individual items into theoretically sound combinations, as I suggest we should do more often.

How (Not) to Study Ideological Representation

David Broockman has an important paper on political representation apparently forthcoming in LSQ.

He notes two ways to study the political representation of issues, policies, and preferences. On the one hand we can examine citizen-elite congruence issue by issue. On the other hand, we can calculate “policy scores” to capture ideal points of overall ideologies and compare these between citizens and the elite. The paper convincingly demonstrates that the latter approach is flawed in the sense that it doesn’t really capture political representation in the way we generally understand it.

Broockman, David E. 2015. “Approaches to Studying Policy Representation.” Legislative Studies Quarterly.