Policy Change and the Politics of Expertise. Economic Ideas and Immigration Control Reforms in Switzerland.

(2007) Swiss Political Science Review 13 (1): 1-38

This article analyses the varying influence across time of the “epistemic community” of free-market economists on immigration policy making in Switzerland. To this end, a framework for the analysis of the impact of economic expertise is provided, and then used in an historical analysis comparing the 1960s with the 1990s. Whereas this influence can be considered to have been weak in the 1960s, it gained significantly in importance in the 1990s, when a period of economic unrest seriously challenged previous immigration policies. It is argued that economic experts played an important role in framing the reforms undertaken during this latter period, notably by providing a “credible causal story” about the links between the existing immigration policy and the social problems which arose in the country in the 1990s. As compared to the 1960s, economic expertise in the 1990s enjoyed more credibility, more political support and took full advantage of a more uncertain social and economic context.

» > access