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      British Nationals’ Preferences Over Who Gets to Be a Citizen According to a Choice-Based Conjoint Experiment

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      European Sociological Review
      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          This article contributes new evidence about the types of immigrants that British nationals would accept as fellow citizens. I analyse the preferences of a large, nationally representative UK sample employing a choice-based conjoint-analysis experiment. Respondents were presented with paired vignettes of applicant types characterized by a combination of attributes chosen randomly. The attributes of immigrants with the largest impact on the probability of granting citizenship were occupation and religion: respondents especially penalized applicants who were Muslim or with no occupation. Respondents granted citizenship at different rates on average (from 64 per cent to 80 per cent): rates were lower among respondents who had voted to leave the EU, were older, less educated, and earned less. The types of immigrant who were most likely to be granted citizenship did not, however, vary by respondents’ income, education, or age, and varied little between Brexit Leave and Remain voters. My findings about nationals’ citizen preferences reflect the inclusive–exclusive nature of British citizenship and national identity, whereby inclusion is conditional on productivity and on the endorsement of liberal values.

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          Most cited references56

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          Causal Inference in Conjoint Analysis: Understanding Multidimensional Choices via Stated Preference Experiments

          Survey experiments are a core tool for causal inference. Yet, the design of classical survey experiments prevents them from identifying which components of a multidimensional treatment are influential. Here, we show howconjoint analysis, an experimental design yet to be widely applied in political science, enables researchers to estimate the causal effects of multiple treatment components and assess several causal hypotheses simultaneously. In conjoint analysis, respondents score a set of alternatives, where each has randomly varied attributes. Here, we undertake a formal identification analysis to integrate conjoint analysis with the potential outcomes framework for causal inference. We propose a new causal estimand and show that it can be nonparametrically identified and easily estimated from conjoint data using a fully randomized design. The analysis enables us to propose diagnostic checks for the identification assumptions. We then demonstrate the value of these techniques through empirical applications to voter decision making and attitudes toward immigrants.
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            Validating vignette and conjoint survey experiments against real-world behavior.

            Survey experiments, like vignette and conjoint analyses, are widely used in the social sciences to elicit stated preferences and study how humans make multidimensional choices. However, there is a paucity of research on the external validity of these methods that examines whether the determinants that explain hypothetical choices made by survey respondents match the determinants that explain what subjects actually do when making similar choices in real-world situations. This study compares results from conjoint and vignette analyses on which immigrant attributes generate support for naturalization with closely corresponding behavioral data from a natural experiment in Switzerland, where some municipalities used referendums to decide on the citizenship applications of foreign residents. Using a representative sample from the same population and the official descriptions of applicant characteristics that voters received before each referendum as a behavioral benchmark, we find that the effects of the applicant attributes estimated from the survey experiments perform remarkably well in recovering the effects of the same attributes in the behavioral benchmark. We also find important differences in the relative performances of the different designs. Overall, the paired conjoint design, where respondents evaluate two immigrants side by side, comes closest to the behavioral benchmark; on average, its estimates are within 2% percentage points of the effects in the behavioral benchmark.
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              Attitudes toward Highly Skilled and Low-skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

              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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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                European Sociological Review
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                0266-7215
                1468-2672
                April 01 2022
                March 22 2022
                August 13 2021
                April 01 2022
                March 22 2022
                August 13 2021
                : 38
                : 2
                : 202-218
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Social Policy Department, The London School of Economics, London WC2A 2AE, UK
                Article
                10.1093/esr/jcab034
                def77387-e520-4621-8302-14035636317c
                © 2021

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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