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Immigration, Wages, and Compositional Amenities

  • David Card

    ()

    (University of California Berkeley)

  • Christian Dustmann

    ()

    (University College London)

  • Ian Preston

    ()

    (University College London)

Economists are often puzzled by the stronger public opposition to immigration than trade, since the two policies have symmetric effects on wages. Unlike trade, however, immigration changes the composition of the local population, imposing potential externalities on natives. While previous studies have focused on fiscal spillovers, a broader class of externalities arise because people value the "compositional amenities" associated with the characteristics of their neighbors and co-workers. In this paper we present a new method for quantifying the relative importance of these amenities in shaping attitudes toward immigration. We use data for 21 countries in the 2002 European Social Survey, which included a series of questions on the economic and social impacts of immigration, as well as on the desirability of increasing or reducing immigrant inflows. We find that individual attitudes toward immigration policy reflect a combination of concerns over conventional economic impacts (i.e., on wages and taxes) and compositional amenities, with substantially more weight on composition effects. Most of the difference in attitudes to immigration between more and less educated natives is attributable to heightened concerns over compositional amenities among the less-educated.

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Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 0929.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:0929
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  1. Kevin H. O'Rourke, & Richard Sinnott, 2003. "Migration flows: Political Economy of Migration and the Empirical Challenges," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp06, IIIS.
  2. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2006. "Why Are Immigrants' Incarceration Rates So Low? Evidence on Selective Immigration, Deterrence, and Deportation," Departmental Working Papers 200605, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  3. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2007. "Why Are People More Pro-trade Than Pro-migration?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6351, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Anna Maria Mayda, 2004. "Who is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," Development Working Papers 187, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  5. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2000. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," CEPR Discussion Papers 2542, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2007. "A Unified Framework for Measuring Preferences for Schools and Neighborhoods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(4), pages 588-638, 08.
  7. Francisco Rivera-Batiz & Myeong-Su Yun & Ira Gang, 2002. "Economic Strain, Ethnic Concentration and Attitudes Towards Foreigners in the European Union," Departmental Working Papers 200214, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  8. Butcher, Kristin F & Card, David, 1991. "Immigration and Wages: Evidence from the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 292-96, May.
  9. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Immigrazione," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 363-407, July-Sept.
  12. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
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