Public Attitudes Toward Immigration

Posted: 21 May 2014

See all articles by Jens Hainmueller

Jens Hainmueller

Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2014


Immigrant populations in many developed democracies have grown rapidly, and so too has an extensive literature on natives' attitudes toward immigration. This research has developed from two theoretical foundations, one grounded in political economy, the other in political psychology. These two literatures have developed largely in isolation from one another, yet the conclusions that emerge from each are strikingly similar. Consistently, immigration attitudes show little evidence of being strongly correlated with personal economic circumstances. Instead, research finds that immigration attitudes are shaped by sociotropic concerns about its cultural impacts — and to a lesser extent its economic impacts — on the nation as a whole. This pattern of results has held up as scholars have increasingly turned to experimental tests, and it holds for the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Still, more work is needed to strengthen the causal identification of sociotropic concerns and to isolate precisely how, when, and why they matter for attitude formation.

Suggested Citation

Hainmueller, Jens and Hopkins, Daniel J., Public Attitudes Toward Immigration (May 2014). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 17, pp. 225-249, 2014, Available at SSRN: or

Jens Hainmueller (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States


Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States


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