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Public Opinion on Immigration: Has the Recession Changed Minds?

Listed author(s):
  • Hatton, Timothy J.

It is widely believed that the current recession has soured public attitudes towards immigration. But most existing studies are cross sectional and can shed little light on the economy-wide forces that shift public opinion on immigration. In this paper I use the six rounds of the European Social Survey (2002-2012) to test the effects of economic shocks on immigration opinion for 20 countries. The recession that began in 2008 provides a useful test because its severity varied so widely across Europe. For Europe as a whole the shifts in average opinion have been remarkably mild. But trends in opinion have varied across countries, especially in the responses to a question on whether immigrants are good or bad for the economy. At the country level, pro-immigration opinion is negatively related to the share of immigrants in the population and to the share social benefits in GDP, but only weakly to unemployment. These effects differ somewhat across responses to different questions relating to immigration policy and to the desirability of immigrants. The recession also influenced other attitudes and traits that are sometimes linked to opinion on immigration.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 10008.

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Date of creation: Jun 2014
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10008
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  1. Tito Boeri, 2010. "Immigration to the Land of Redistribution," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(308), pages 651-687, October.
  2. Yvonni Markaki & Simonetta Longhi, 2012. "What Determines Attitudes to Immigration in European Countries? An Analysis at the Regional Level," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1233, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 510-530, August.
  4. Bryan, Mark L. & Jenkins, Stephen P., 2013. "Regression analysis of country effects using multilevel data: a cautionary tale," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-14, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  5. Gordon H. Hanson & Kenneth Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2007. "Public Finance And Individual Preferences Over Globalization Strategies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 1-33, March.
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  8. Ira N. Gang & Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz & Myeng-Su Yun, 2013. "Economic Strain, Education and Attitudes towards Foreigners in the European Union," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 177-190, May.
  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.
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  11. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2009. "Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants? Evidence across Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 295-314, May.
  12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:104:y:2010:i:01:p:61-84_99 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Lena Calahorrano, 2013. "Population Aging and Individual Attitudes toward Immigration: Disentangling Age, Cohort and Time Effects," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 342-353, May.
  14. Kevin Denny & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2013. "Irish Attitudes To Immigration During And After The Boom," Working Papers 201322, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  15. Jérôme Héricourt & Gilles Spielvogel, 2012. "How beliefs about the impact of immigration shape policy preferences: Evidence from Europe," Working Papers DT/2012/06, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
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