The Inconsistency of Immigration Policy: Exploring New Theoretical Explanations


Weberian research has often assumed that written immigration policies reveal governments’ consistent objectives. This research struggles to make sense of the finding that immigration policies are frequently inconsistent: combining or alternating between restrictive and non-restrictive measures. This study uses global data sets to reveal what proportion of immigration policies are inconsistent and develops a measure of policy inconsistency to track how immigration policy inconsistency varies across time and space. We use these techniques to generate limited empirical support for macro-political explanations of policy inconsistency, that focus on variables located at the national scale. We then use these findings and analyses to argue in favour of further research into micro-political explanations, that focus on the behaviour of ordinary officials and migrants at the local scale. Exploring the impact of micro-political factors on national immigration policies will require substantially improved dialogues between quantitative and qualitative research.

Under Review