Attitudes Toward Highly Skilled and Low-Skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment
American Political Science Review, Vol. 104, No. 1, pp. 1-24, February 2010
24 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2010
Past research has emphasized two critical economic concerns that appear to generate anti-immigrant sentiment among native citizens: concerns about labor market competition and concerns about the fiscal burden on public services. We provide direct tests of both models of attitude formation using an original survey experiment embedded in a nationwide U.S. survey. The labor market competition model predicts that natives will be most opposed to immigrants who have similar skill levels to their own. We find instead that both low skilled and highly skilled natives strongly prefer highly skilled immigrants over low skilled immigrants, and this preference is not decreasing in natives' skill levels. The fiscal burden model anticipates that rich natives oppose low skilled immigration more than poor natives, and that this gap is larger in states with greater fiscal exposure (in terms of immigrant access to public services). We find instead that rich and poor natives are equally opposed to low skilled immigration, and rich natives are actually less opposed to low skilled immigration in states with more fiscal exposure than they are elsewhere. We do find that poor natives are more opposed to low skilled immigration in states with greater fiscal exposure than elsewhere, suggesting that concerns about access to or overcrowding of public services contributes to anti-immigrant attitudes.
Keywords: International Migration, Political Economy, Immigration Preferences
JEL Classification: F22, F1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation