DP5055 Who is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes Towards Immigration

Author(s): Anna Maria Mayda
Publication Date: May 2005
Keyword(s): immigration attitudes, international migration, political economy
JEL(s): F1, F22, J61
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5055

This paper empirically analyzes both economic and non-economic determinants of attitudes towards immigrants, within and across countries. The two individual-level survey data sets used, covering a wide range of developed and developing countries, make it possible to test for interactive effects between individual characteristics and country-level attributes. In particular, trade and labour economics theories of labour markets predict that the correlation between pro-immigration attitudes and individual skill should be related to the skill composition of natives relative to immigrants in the destination country. Skilled individuals should favour immigration in countries where natives are more skilled than immigrants and oppose it in the other countries. Results based on both direct and indirect measures of the relative skill composition of natives to immigrants are consistent with these predictions. Individual skill and pro-immigration attitudes are positively correlated in countries where the skill composition of natives relative to immigrants is high. Individuals with higher levels of skill are more likely to be pro-immigration in high per capita GDP countries and less likely in low per capita GDP countries. Non-economic variables also appear to be correlated with immigration attitudes but they don?t seem to alter significantly the results on the economic explanations.