Now published in Migration Studies: Higher share of immigrants in one’s occupation = more negative attitudes

Our article is now properly published at Migration Studies. Not satisfied that “threat” and “competition” with foreigners is typically reduced to a measure of education (!), we sought a realistic measure of competition. So we examine the relationship between the share of foreigners at the occupational level — a much more relevant unit of analysis than education levels or the share of foreigners in a geographical unit — and negative attitudes to immigrants. We use objective measures of pressures in the labour-market: the unemployment rate in one’s occupation. At this stage, we find support for “threat” in that a higher share of immigrants is associated with more negative attitudes.

But we didn’t stop there. We find that this relationship can probably be accounted for by sorting on job quality — particularly the association with objective pressures. This sorting is a consequence of selective migration policies, but we also show that the association between the occupational share of foreigners and attitudes decreases for workers with better job prospects: This implies that workers welcome foreigners to overcome labour market shortages. Put differently, we show that workers seem to react to immigrants in a nuanced way.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘A Foreigner Who Does Not Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes toward Equal Opportunities’. International Migration Review 50 (3): 628–66.
———. 2020. ‘Occupational Exposure to Foreigners and Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities’. Migration Studies 8 (3): 382–423.

New paper on exposure in the job and attitudes to immigrants

I have the pleasure to announce our new paper on attitudes to foreigners. Marco and I wanted to move beyond the share of foreigners in geographically defined areas: We examined the share of foreigners in one’s job and how this is linked to attitudes. A key motivation for doing this was that many contributions on attitudes to immigrants seem to dismiss competitive threat in the labour market despite not providing a realistic test of such competition. Just think a moment: I’m not competing with (foreignany) workers in the construction sector, and I’m not competing with many of the highly educated immigrants workers either. We have segmented labour markets, and we should account for them in our analyses.

We find that a higher share of foreigners in one’s occupation correlates with more negative attitudes to immigrants. This suggests that workers react to competition with foreigners. When we dig deeper, we find that objective pressures in the labour market (we use the unemployment rate in each occupation) matter, just like contact with foreigners at work seem to alleviate negative attitudes. In fact, it turns out that sorting on job quality can probably account for these factors, especially objective pressures in the labour market.

Where does this leave us? It appears that workers react to immigrants at work in a differentiated manner. On the one hand, they dislike workers competing with them, on the other hand, they welcome them when they help overcome labour market shortages.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2019. “Occupational Exposure to Foreigners and Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities.” Migration Studies.