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      Attitudes toward Highly Skilled and Low-skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

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          Abstract

          Past research has emphasized two critical economic concerns that appear to generate anti-immigrant sentiment among native citizens: concerns about labor market competition and concerns about the fiscal burden on public services. We provide direct tests of both models of attitude formation using an original survey experiment embedded in a nationwide U.S. survey. The labor market competition model predicts that natives will be most opposed to immigrants who have skill levels similar to their own. We find instead that both low-skilled and highly skilled natives strongly prefer highly skilled immigrants over low-skilled immigrants, and this preference is not decreasing in natives' skill levels. The fiscal burden model anticipates that rich natives oppose low-skilled immigration more than poor natives, and that this gap is larger in states with greater fiscal exposure (in terms of immigrant access to public services). We find instead that rich and poor natives are equally opposed to low-skilled immigration in general. In states with high fiscal exposure, poor (rich) natives are more (less) opposed to low-skilled immigration than they are elsewhere. This indicates that concerns among poor natives about constraints on welfare benefits as a result of immigration are more relevant than concerns among the rich about increased taxes. Overall the results suggest that economic self-interest, at least as currently theorized, does not explain voter attitudes toward immigration. The results are consistent with alternative arguments emphasizing noneconomic concerns associated with ethnocentrism or sociotropic considerations about how the local economy as a whole may be affected by immigration.

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          Most cited references35

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          Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration

          David Card (2001)
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            The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market

            G Borjas (2003)
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              Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                American Political Science Review
                Am Polit Sci Rev
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0003-0554
                1537-5943
                February 2010
                March 2010
                : 104
                : 01
                : 61-84
                Article
                10.1017/S0003055409990372
                66687188-6dab-473c-9e75-cd616c074361
                © 2010
                History

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