Do Concerns about Labour Market Competition Shape Attitudes Toward Immigration? New Evidence
44 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 13 Dec 2011
Date Written: 2011
To what extent are voters' attitudes toward immigration determined by considerations of material self interest and fears about labor market competition? General equilibrium models predict that immigration has negligible effects on the wages and employment of most native workers, and these predictions are generally confirmed by the bulk of the empirical research on the labor market impacts of immigration flows. But several prominent studies have recently examined survey data on voters and argued that fears about labor market competition are actually a potent source of anti-immigrant sentiment. We address several measurement problems that plague the use of survey data in these previous studies by conducting a large targeted survey of current U.S. employees in 12 industries. These industries vary with respect to their exposure to key dimensions of globalization. We test potential relationships between the skill levels, industry locations, occupations, and mobility of these employees and their attitudes towards different types of immigrants. In contrast with previous studies, our tests indicate that fears about labor market competition do not have substantial effects on voter attitudes towards immigration.
Keywords: immigration, political economy, immigration attitudes, survey experiments
JEL Classification: F22, F1, J15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation