Personal Economic Shocks and Public Opposition to Unauthorized Immigration
18 Pages Posted: 25 May 2023
Date Written: May 22, 2023
Do negative economic shocks heighten public opposition to immigration, and through what mechanisms? Extant research suggests that economic circumstances and levels of labor market competition have little bearing on citizens' immigration attitudes. Yet personal economic shocks have the potential to trigger the threatened, anti-immigration responses--possibly through channels other than labor market competition--that prior cross-sectional research has been unable to detect. To examine these propositions, we use a unique panel study that tracks a large, population-based sample of Americans between 2007 and 2020. We find that negative economic shocks, especially job loss, spur opposition to unauthorized immigration. However, such effects are not concentrated among those most likely to face labor market competition from unauthorized immigrants. Instead, they are concentrated among White male Americans. Together, this evidence suggests that respondents' anti-immigration turn does not stem from economic concerns alone. Personal experiences with the economy are refracted through salient socio-political lenses.
Keywords: Immigration, unemployment, public opinion, panel data
JEL Classification: H00, H53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation