September 2006

IZA DP No. 2283: Attitudes Towards Immigration: Does Economic Self-Interest Matter?

published in: Economics Letters, 2008, 100 (2), 254-257

In this paper, we re-examine the role of economic self-interest in shaping people’s attitudes towards immigration, using data from the European Social Survey 2002/2003. Compared to the existing literature, there are two main contributions of the present paper. First, we develop a more powerful test of the hypothesis that a positive relationship between education and attitudes towards immigration reflects economic self-interest in the labour market. Second, we develop an alternative and more direct test of whether economic self-interest matters for people’s attitudes towards immigration. We find that while the "original" relationship between education and attitudes found in the literature is unlikely to reflect economic self-interest, there is considerable evidence of economic self-interest when using the more direct test.