Labor-Market Exposure as a Determinant of Attitudes Toward Immigration

44 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2009

See all articles by Francesc Ortega

Francesc Ortega

City University of New York, CUNY Queens College - Department of Economics ; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Javier G. Polavieja

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Abstract

This paper re-examines the role of labor-market competition as a determinant of attitudes toward immigration. We claim two main contributions. First, we use more sophisticated measures of the degree of exposure to competition from immigrants than previously done. Specifically, we focus on the protection derived from investments in job-specific human capital and from specialization in communication-intensive jobs, in addition to formal education. Second, we explicitly account for the potential endogeneity arising from job search. Methodologically, we estimate, by instrumental variables, an econometric model that allows for heterogeneity at the individual, regional, and country level. Drawing on the 2004 European Social Survey, we obtain three main results. First, our estimates show that individuals that are currently employed in less exposed jobs are relatively more pro-immigration. This is true for both our new measures of exposure. Second, we show that the protection granted by job-specific human capital is clearly distinct from the protection granted by formal education. Yet the positive effect of education on pro-immigration attitudes is greatly reduced when we control for the degree of communication intensity of respondents' occupations. Third, OLS estimates are biased in a direction that suggests that natives respond to immigration by switching to less exposed jobs. The latter finding provides indirect support for the endogenous job specialization hypothesis postulated by Peri and Sparber (2009).

Keywords: immigration attitudes, labor market, job-specific human capital, communication skills, international migration

JEL Classification: F1, F22, J61, J31, R13

Suggested Citation

Ortega, Francesc and Polavieja, Javier G., Labor-Market Exposure as a Determinant of Attitudes Toward Immigration. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4519, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1501935 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1501935

Francesc Ortega (Contact Author)

City University of New York, CUNY Queens College - Department of Economics ( email )

65-30 Kissena Blvd
Flushing, NY 11367-1597
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Javier G. Polavieja

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
08005 Barcelona
Spain

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