Book Project: Trading Barriers: Immigration and the Remaking of Globalization

Due out Spring 2017, Princeton University Press

Why have states increasingly restricted immigration even when they have opened their markets to foreign competition through trade or allowed their firms to move jobs overseas?  I argued in this book project that the increased ability of firms to produce anywhere in the world in combination with increased international competition due to lowered trade barriers led to the greater restrictions on migration.  Firms that use much low-skill labor have been the major proponent of greater openness to immigrants.  Immigration helps lower their costs, making them more competitive at home and abroad.  However, increased international competition due to low trade barriers and greater economic development in the developing world led many of these firms in wealthy countries to close.  The ability to move overseas gave these firms another option when faced with international competition: if they could not beat the competition, they would join them.  Finally, productivity increases allowed those firms that remained behind to do more with fewer workers.  Together, these changes in the international economy sapped the support of these firms for immigration at home; allowed anti-immigrant groups to have more voice and led to greater restrictions on immigration.

My dissertation, on which the book is based, won APSA’s 2012 Helen Dwight Reid Award for the best dissertation in International Relations, Law and Politics.