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Beliefs about the Economic Impact of Immigration

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  • Tremewan, James

Abstract

The public's beliefs about the economic impact of immigration on host nations' economies is significantly more negative than both the beliefs of economists, and what much of the empirical evidence would suggest. In an attempt to explain this disparity, and the wide range of beliefs about what should largely be a matter of fact, I develop a simple model of belief formation based on the concept of motivated reasoning: when coming to a conclusion people are influenced by the desire to come to a particular conclusion (a directional goal) and by the desire for their conclusion to be justified by evidence (an accuracy goal). This gives agents an incentive to manipulate their beliefs. The model yields several testable hypotheses: positive beliefs about the economic impact of immigrants should be negatively associated with a preference for living in an ethnically homogeneous society; the effect of education depends crucially on the aforementioned preference; finally, beliefs should reflect the probability of receiving supporting evidence. An empirical analysis using the European Social Survey 2002/2003 data finds support for all three hypotheses.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 09-019.

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Date of creation: 04 Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22141

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Related research

Keywords: motivated reasoning; behavioural economics;

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  1. David Blanchflower & Jumana Saleheen & Chris Shadforth, 2007. "The impact of the recent migration from Eastern Europe on the UK economy," Discussion Papers 17, Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England.
  2. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 433-458, April.
  3. Malchow-Møller, Nikolaj & Munch, Jakob R. & Schroll, Sanne & Skaksen, Jan Rose, 2006. "Attitudes Towards Immigration: Does Economic Self-Interest Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 2283, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston, 2000. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0839, Econometric Society.
  5. Jennifer Hunt & Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle, 2008. "How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?," NBER Working Papers 14312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jens Hainmueller & Michael J. Hiscox, 2005. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," Others 0505013, EconWPA.
  7. Barro, Robert T. & Sala-I-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Regional growth and migration: A Japan-United States comparison," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 312-346, December.
  8. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
  9. Edward C. Norton & Hua Wang & Chunrong Ai, 2004. "Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 154-167, June.
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