Public attitudes concerning immigration: the role of economic factors

This research examines two economic explanations for why people have hostile sentiments toward immigrants. First, the split labor market theory predicts lesser-skilled natives will oppose immigrants because they perceive them as economic competition. Second, the fiscal burden model predicts that wealthy natives oppose immigration because of the belief that immigrants will strain public resources. This research uses socioeconomic index, a measure that combines education, income, and occupational prestige to establish position in the labor market and assess these economic explanations. The particular attitudes towards immigrants examined in this study were the belief that immigration leads to unemployment for Americans, the perception that immigrants contribute to the economy, and the belief that immigrants should have access to public resources. This research draws from the 1994 General Social Survey (GSS). Findings showed that socioeconomic index did not predict people's attitudes towards immigrants, but that non-economic factors such as age and race did.

Thesis (M.A.) California State University, Los Angeles, 2011

Committee members: Gretchen Peterson, Wai Kit Choi, Bradley Campbell, Steven L. Gordon