How Economic and Political Factors Interact in Stratifying International Visa-Free Travel and Migratory Opportunities

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
This paper shows how different levels of economic welfare and political freedom in nation-states are associated with how many countries its nationals can visit without a visa (visa free mobility) (2). Previous research suggests that as a country increases its income per capita and political freedom, one observes a monotonic rise in visa free mobility. However, I show that the size and direction changes in visa free mobility of nationals both depend on its level of economic wealth and political freedom. (1). I use multivariate regression to analyze data on visa free mobility from Henley and Partner’s 2014 Visa Restriction Index, World Bank data on logged Gross national Income (GNI) (Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) adjusted), population, inequality, and membership in regional economic organization and Freedom House’s (2013) score of political freedom for 156 nation-states (4). When one includes a political freedom and GNI interaction term, the relationship between the level of political freedom in a country and visa free mobility is negative for countries with low levels of economic wealth and positive for those with a middle and high level of economic wealth, increasing geometrically as income further increases and revealing that among wealthy countries nationals suffer a penalty severely restricted international mobility if their governments restrain political freedom (3). A state membership in a transnational economic organization (e.g. European Union) somewhat mediates this relationship, but not entirely. This article refines the understanding of scholars about the social stratification of travel and migratory opportunity of nationals from countries with varying levels of political freedom and economic well-being (5).This interaction suggests that governments and diplomats when designing policy may want to carefully to consider economic status of a country when considering the impact of policies promoting political freedom and liberalization.