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Labor-market exposure as a determinant of attitudes toward immigration

  • Ortega, Francesc
  • Polavieja, Javier G.

This paper re-examines the role of labor-market competition as a determinant of attitudes toward immigration. We claim two main contributions. First, we use more sophisticated measures of the degree of exposure to competition from immigrants than previously done. In addition to education, we focus on the protection derived from (self-assessed) investments in job-specific human capital and from specialization in occupations that are (objectively) intensive in communication tasks. Second, we explicitly account for the potential endogeneity arising from job search. Methodologically, we estimate by instrumental variables, an econometric model that allows for heterogeneity at the individual, regional and country level. Drawing on the 2004–2005 European Social Survey, we obtain the following main results. First, natives that dislike immigrants tend to work in low-immigration jobs, biasing OLS estimates. Second, working in jobs that require high levels of specific human capital leads to relatively more pro-immigration attitudes, although this effect is only found for respondents with more than 12years of schooling. Third, the degree of manual (communicational) intensity of workers' occupations has a negative (positive) effect on their pro-immigration views. This effect is the most significant, both in a statistical and in a quantitative sense, and is distinct from the protection from immigrant competition provided by formal education. Overall our results suggest a large role for skill-based labor market competition in determining individual attitudes toward immigration.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 298-311

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Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:19:y:2012:i:3:p:298-311
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  1. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
  2. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2000. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," IZA Discussion Papers 190, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Farré Lidia & González Libertad & Ortega Francesc, 2011. "Immigration, Family Responsibilities and the Labor Supply of Skilled Native Women," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-48, June.
  4. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2008. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0802, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
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  8. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  9. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Sinnott, Richard, 2006. "The determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 838-861, December.
  10. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2007. "Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants? Evidence Across Countries," Development Working Papers 233, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  11. Ortega Francesc, 2010. "Immigration, Citizenship, and the Size of Government," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-40, March.
  12. Francesco D'Amuri & Giovanni Peri, 2011. "Immigration, Jobs and Employment Protection: Evidence from Europe," NBER Working Papers 17139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2002. "Upstairs, Downstairs: Computers and Skills on Two Floors of a Large Bank," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 432-447, April.
  14. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & de la Rica, Sara, 2011. "Complements or substitutes? Task specialization by gender and nativity in Spain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 697-707, October.
  15. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2007. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 399-442, April.
  16. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2007. "Personnel Economics," NBER Working Papers 13480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  18. González, Libertad & Ortega, Francesc, 2011. "How do very open economies adjust to large immigration flows? Evidence from Spanish regions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 57-70, January.
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