Personal Economic Shocks and Public Opposition to Unauthorized Immigration

18 Pages Posted: 25 May 2023

See all articles by Daniel J. Hopkins

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Yotam Margalit

Tel Aviv University

Omer Solodoch

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Margalit, Yotam and Solodoch, Omer, Personal Economic Shocks and Public Opposition to Unauthorized Immigration (May 22, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States


Yotam Margalit

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Tel Aviv


Omer Solodoch

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905

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