Democracy 4 Developer Blog #27: Portuguese immigration



Regarding immigration, please fix the balance before adding policies. More policies are nice but the balance is the problem. The way immigration overwhelms every other policy in my games is annoying and game breaking. Its frustrating because its a portion of the game you have simply no control over.

If you have a good economy immigration maxes out. This leads to several problems that are game breaking from an immersion perspective.

First you have no control over immigration it’s simply maxed.

Second the country becomes 90% minority. This should never happen it’s simply unrealistic under any scenario. Now the best policies you can pass are one that cater to minorities. This is frustrating because policies catering to minorities assume that they are a smaller portion of the population and relatively unintegrated into the population.

Third the high immigration makes it impossible to keep unemployment low.

The fundamental thing we are trying to represent is a portion of the population that is unintegrated into the nation. Unintegrated population should never reach over 20% or you will have a revolution.

Here are some ideas:

apply a large negative bias to immigration so that it only gets to 100% if there is 100% economy and no border controls. Then border controls should affect immigration linearly from 100% border controls being no immigration and 0 border controls being 100% immigration.

perhaps it will make sense to cap minority population or have it change only logarithmically

here are more complex changes :

it might help to separate immigrant (foreign born) population from minority population

separate illegal from legal immigration track it separately and have separate problems and policies


I think you are right in that we likely need to model legal and illegal immigration separately, which can be part of a broader re-design.
Obviously border walls & patrols etc should only stop illegal immigration, and legal immigration should be more directly and reliably controlled. Plus modifiers for stuff like coastlines and lengths of borders in each country etc…


those sound like great ideas! Really it’s just lack of control over the issue that is most frustrating.

On the topic of problems that naturally build over time, there’s more possibilities than just climate. Noncompetitive economy might build up over time as the third world catches up, and foreign policy might become trickier over time for much the same reason.

For immigration, I feel the risk is ending up with a bunch of redundant policies which all boil down to lib/con choices that increase/decrease immigration. I’d suggest rolling a lot of things into a couple of uncancelable policies, like how labor rights work. My personal spitballed model is as follows:

  • New negative situation: Illegal immigration. Boosts immigration, should probably boost tax evasion or smuggling. Makes Patriots and Conservatives angry. Caused by the factors that increase immigration normally, reduced by high quotas or border security.
  • Two mandatory policies: Immigration quotas & border regime. The former is “how many people are we letting in the country legally” and is the main driver of immigration levels. The latter is how harshly/nicely illegal immigrants/people being processed are treated. This lets you reduce illegal immigration at the cost of racial tension on the hard end, reduce racial tension and poverty (services for undocumented) at the other end. Obviously a conservative/liberal split for both of those.
  • Some specific programs to admit people: Refugee resettlement (relations+, minorities/liberals+, minority membership+, tension+), sponsored visas (GDP+, capitalist+), points based immigration (reduce side effects of immigration, reduce immigration levels, less political than just turning the meter down).

Very interesting thoughts there on all counts. I do like the idea of illegal immigration as a red situation as frankly, regardless of politics, immigration through undocumented means must by definition be a problem. I guess the only issue here is whether or not that makes it too ‘binary’ an issue. I guess all countries have some illegal immigration, so it would be a red scenario thats almost always there…

I think in terms of your mandatory policies, border regime is effectively already in there as border controls. So this would maybe mean adding the following:

Add a new mandatory policy: Immigration policy
Add a new triggerable situation: Illegal Immigration
Add new policies that would impact legal immigration such as Refugees, selling citizenship etc
Alter some of the existing effects so that they affect either legal or illegal immigration, where current immigration is legal, and illegal is now inputs to the illegal immigration situation, which has the same population effect, but worse impacts on public opinion of voter groups etc.

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Every country has some drug abusers and alcoholics, and those are red situations.

My thinking was actually to have the immigration sim value represent all the economic and demographic effects of immigration, and just have illegal immigration contribute to it, with some added negative political and social effects on the side.

I’m glad to see plans for more detail in immigrating, and the point about legal and illegal immigration being separate has already been brought up.

I have brought up before that even among legal immigrants, they are not a monolithic bloc. There is variety among those who have immigrated, but at a certain point I suppose we have to ask how much detail each section of the game is going to get.

I do like the idea of more aspects of this game being represented by policies which cannot be canceled, meaning the player must make a decision on the topic.

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Nice, but I’d separate legal and illegal immigration in different blue bubbles. And if the illegal one goes too high, the illegal immigration red bubble can trigger.

As far as I can tell, @AvianOverlord’s idea here was more like, how harshly you treat people who try to come in illegally (similar to the prison treatment policy) rather than how advanced your measures are (which is what border controls currently does, similar to spending more on prisons)

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This is correct.

Aha interesting. I think maybe the option of some harsher policies (detention camps etc) can reflect that, with the assumption being non-harsh enforcement unless extra policies are implemented.

New immigration content coming soon. From top left… illegal immigration, border controls, then immigration policy, refugee policy and citizenship for sale policy. (L->R). Finally we will distinguish between immigration and illegal immigration.



What percentage of the US population are citizens?

I raise this question because the intuitions are way off. If the game can accurately model this i think it would help intuitions.

Immigration has huge political impact way outside its size as an economic or cultural issue. It should have very little impact on game economics and minority makeup but large effect in politics.

Another interesting thread:

What i take from this is it is less about the size an nature of the immigration to a country and more about its ability to integrate the population. which is mostly what happens. The immigrants are integrated into the population and to the small extent it does not happen its a huge problem. For the game this could be handled as fairly high impact “situations” but maybe not a modeled mechanism.

We do try to sort-of model integration in the citizenship tests policy. This reduces racial tension, and the implication is that you are forced to learn a fair bit about the local history and culture to pass the test, which aids in integration.

Since you’re working on this- do citizenship tests now only reduce racial tension from immigration? Because currently it’s a bit of a magic bullet.

Hmmm, no they reduce (AFAIK) racial tension directly. I think thats fair though (although it might be too powerful and immediate). Citizenship tests could be made retrospective in theory, so immigrants who have been in a country X years would still be encouraged to take them anyway, and that should theoretically reduce racial tension…depending how its handled obviously!

perhaps the citizenship test is too strong? There seems to be little cost for maxing it out and it is pretty effective in damping ethnic conflict.

Then it would make sense to split up the effects into both a direct reduction and a reduction on immigration racial tension. To be honest I don’t think “encouraging” existing residents to take citizenship tests would do anything to reduce racial tensions. It would probably enflame them.

Not to mention that racial tension doesn’t have to have anything to do with immigration- see the US, where citizenship tests basically wipe out all the racial tension you have from natural-born citizens being black or white or whathaveyou.

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What is citizenship tests trying to represent, anyway? More or less open naturalization?