Why Do Citizens Prefer Highly Skilled Immigrants to Low-Skilled Immigrants? Identifying Causal Mechanisms of Immigration Preferences with a Survey Experiment

Author Name IGARASHI Akira (Rikkyo University) / MIWA Hirofumi (Gakushuin University) / ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. June 2021 21-E-048
Research Project Advanced Technology and Democracy: Does new technology help or hurt democracy?
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Why do citizens prefer highly skilled immigrants to low-skilled immigrants? To understand the causal mechanism behind this tendency among citizens, we conducted a vignette survey experiment that enables us to clarify the role of multiple mediators. We specifically focused on three key factors that have been proposed in existing research as those that could lead citizens to be more welcoming to highly skilled immigrants: expectations of economic contributions, welfare contributions, and smaller potential for increases in crime rates. Our findings revealed that the effect of immigrants' skill levels on citizens' attitudes was fully mediated by the economic factor. In other words, people welcome high-skilled immigrants simply because they welcome the economic benefits of those immigrants, not because of the expected contributions to welfare or assumptions of low crime levels related to highly skilled immigrants.

Published: Igarashi, Akira, Hirofumi Miwa, and Yoshikuni Ono, 2022. "Why do citizens prefer high-skilled immigrants to low-skilled immigrants? Identifying causal mechanisms of immigration preferences with a survey experiment," Research & Politics, Volume 9, Issue 2 (2022).