More than this: The Occupational Share of Foreigners and Attitudes to Equal Opportunities
23 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 1, 2014
In most Western democracies, immigrant populations have grown rapidly. Some individuals have followed these developments with unease and have negative attitudes towards immigrants and foreign citizens. Hainmueller and Hopkins (2014) highlight sociotropic concerns about the cultural and - to a lesser extent economic - impact of immigration, suggesting that the individual economic situation is less important for attitudes towards foreigners. By relying on levels of education or skills, existing studies, however, do not adequately take into consideration the fact that not all occupations are equally exposed to economic competition with foreigners. We use data from the Swiss Household Panel 2004 to 2006, and look at occupational concentration -- the share of foreigners that is more relevant for labour force competition than regional distributions. With some 250 occupations considered, a detailed and realistic picture of labour force competition is provided. Here we use random effects models to show that there is a negative association between the share of foreigners in one's occupation and positive attitudes to equal opportunities for foreigners. At the same time, we observe a positive association between the share of recently arrived foreigners and positives attitudes to equal opportunities. This suggests that workers are at the same time wary of competition with foreigners and welcome their contribution to overcome labour shortages. All results are robust to endogeneity and attrition concerns. By examining the role of the occupational share of foreigners, this paper is able to ascertain the importance of labour force competition alongside sociotropic concerns and fears of cultural threat well-established in the literature.
Keywords: immigration, attitudes towards foreigners, labour market, occupational classification, ethnic concentration, wages, panel data analysis, instrumental variables
JEL Classification: F22, J24, J31, J61
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation