The Stability of Immigration Attitudes: Evidence and Implications
60 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2019 Last revised: 4 May 2019
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Do voters have stable immigration views? While any account of immigration politics must make an assumption about whether underlying attitudes are stable, the literature has been ambiguous regarding the issue. To remedy this omission, we provide the first comprehensive assessment of the stability and change of immigration attitudes. Theoretically, we develop a framework to explicate the temporal assumptions in previous research and find that most studies assume attitudes are flexible. Empirically, we draw on seven panel datasets to test the stability question and use multiple approaches to account for measurement error. We find that immigration attitudes are remarkably stable over time and robust to major economic and political shocks. Overall, these findings provide more support for theories emphasizing socialization and stable predispositions rather than information or environmental factors. Consequently, scholars should exercise caution in using changing context to explain immigration attitudes or in using immigration attitudes to explain political change.
Keywords: Immigration Attitudes, Panel Data, Attitude Stability, Cross-National, Public Opinion
JEL Classification: F22, D72, F50, C83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation