The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes Toward Immigrants
Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford Graduate School of Business
Daniel J. Hopkins
University of Pennsylvania
August 30, 2012
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-22
A large literature has examined the factors that influence immigration attitudes. Yet prior tests have considered only a few immigrant attributes at a time, limiting their capacity to test several hypotheses simultaneously. This paper uses conjoint analysis to test the influence of nine randomized immigrant attributes in generating support for admission. Drawing on a two-wave, population-based panel survey, it demonstrates that Americans view educated immigrants in high-status jobs favorably, while they view those who lack plans to work, entered without authorization, come from Iraq, or do not speak English unfavorably. The results are consistent with norms-based and sociotropic explanations of immigration attitudes. Remarkably, Americans' preferences vary little with their education, partisanship, labor market position, ethnocentrism, or other attributes. Beneath partisan divisions over immigration lies a consensus about which immigrants to admit, a fact which points to limits in both theories emphasizing economic threats and those emphasizing cultural threats.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: immigration, attitudes, conjoint analysis, public opinion
JEL Classification: F22, F1, J15
Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: September 1, 2012
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