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Public Opinion on Immigration: Has the Recession Changed Minds?

  • Hatton, Timothy J.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8248.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8248
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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. 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).
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  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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