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Labor-Market Exposure as a Determinant of Attitudes toward Immigration

  • Ortega, Francesc

    ()

    (Queens College, CUNY)

  • Polavieja, Javier G.

    ()

    (IMDEA)

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. Specifically, we focus on the protection derived from investments in job-specific human capital and from specialization in communication-intensive jobs, in addition to formal education. 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 European Social Survey, we obtain three main results. First, our estimates show that individuals that are currently employed in less exposed jobs are relatively more pro-immigration. This is true for both our new measures of exposure. Second, we show that the protection granted by job-specific human capital is clearly distinct from the protection granted by formal education. Yet the positive effect of education on pro-immigration attitudes is greatly reduced when we control for the degree of communication intensity of respondents' occupations. Third, OLS estimates are biased in a direction that suggests that natives respond to immigration by switching to less exposed jobs. The latter finding provides indirect support for the endogenous job specialization hypothesis postulated by Peri and Sparber (2009).

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4519.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Labour Economics, 2012, 19 (3), 298-311
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4519
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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, June.
  2. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2004. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning & Anna Salomons, 2009. "Job Polarization in Europe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 58-63, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Richard Sinnott, 2004. "The Determinants of Individual Attitudes Towards Immigration," Trinity Economics Papers 20042, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  7. Peri, Giovanni & D'Amuri, Francesco, 2010. "Immigration, Jobs and Employment Protection: Evidence from Europe," Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series qt9rp2j8m1, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.
  8. 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.
  9. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2002. "Upstairs, downstairs: Computers and skills on two floors of a large bank," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 432-447, April.
  10. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2000. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," CEPR Discussion Papers 2542, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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. 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.
  13. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 11986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Jens Hainmueller & Michael J. Hiscox, 2005. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," Others 0505013, EconWPA.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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