Immigration Opinion in a Time of Economic Crisis: Material Interests versus Group Attitudes

24 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 15 Sep 2009

See all articles by Ted Brader

Ted Brader

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Nicholas A. Valentino

Independent

Ashley E. Jardina

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

In this paper we revisit a long running question regarding the causal antecedents of immigration policy: Is it the immigration or the immigrants? Most work on identifies a general dimension - ethnocentrism - as the dominant group-based driver of preference for restrictions on immigration and benefits to immigrants. Material interests, including membership in vulnerable groups and perceptions of national and personal economic threats make consistent though smaller contributions in previous models. We revisit these explanations with nationally representative survey data collected at a moment of severe economic upheaval, the days immediately prior to the 2008 presidential election. We expected material interests might play a larger role in predicting immigration opinion than in previous studies. Instead, we found ethnocentrism continues to dominate explanations of opinion across a wide variety of immigration policies and concerns. Finally, we discover that a much more narrow group comparison- relative affect for whites over Hispanics - plays the most powerful role in these models. We conclude that, at least among White Americans, Hispanics and no longer Asians or other groups are the category that comes to mind when the topic of discussion is immigration.

Keywords: immigration, public opinion, prejudice, economy

Suggested Citation

Brader, Ted and Valentino, Nicholas A. and Jardina, Ashley E., Immigration Opinion in a Time of Economic Crisis: Material Interests versus Group Attitudes (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449415

Ted Brader (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Nicholas A. Valentino

Independent ( email )

Ashley E. Jardina

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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