DP5702 Individual Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Welfare-State Determinants Across Countries

Author(s): Giovanni Facchini, Anna Maria Mayda
Publication Date: May 2006
Keyword(s): immigration attitudes, political economy, welfare state
JEL(s): F1, F22, J61
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5702

This paper analyzes welfare-state determinants of individual attitudes towards immigrants - within and across countries - and their interaction with labor-market drivers of preferences. We consider two different mechanisms through which a redistributive welfare system might adjust as a result of immigration. Under the first scenario, immigration has a larger impact on individuals at the top of the income distribution, while under the second one it is low-income individuals who are most affected through this channel. Individual attitudes are consistent with the first welfare-state scenario and with labor-market determinants of immigration attitudes. In countries where natives are on average more skilled than immigrants, individual income is negatively correlated with pro immigration preferences, while individual skill is positively correlated with them. These relationships have the opposite signs in economies characterized by skilled migration (relative to the native population). Such results are confirmed when we exploit international differences in the characteristics of destination countries' welfare state.