Why automated coding of party positions from manifestos may produce misleading conclusions in political research: Paper now in print

I am happy to announce that a paper co-written with Laura Morales is now available in print at Party Politics. We use different methods to extract party positions from party manifestos and compare them. The focus is on immigration and immigrant integration as topics with varying salience, and we find that automated coding does not lead to consistent estimates. We provide first investigations as to when automated methods (do not) work well to obtain party positions from party manifestos, and suggest ‘checklists’ as an efficient manual method that may be suited in many research applications — one that I have recently validated to work in a non-EuropeanWestern context.

Ruedin, Didier, and Laura Morales. 2019. ‘Estimating Party Positions on Immigration: Assessing the Reliability and Validity of Different Methods’. Party Politics 25 (3): 303–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068817713122.

Ruedin, Didier. 2019. ‘South African Parties Hardly Politicise Immigration in Their Electoral Manifestos’. Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies 46 (1). https://doi.org/10.1080/02589346.2019.1608713.

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. https://doi.org/10.1093/migration/mnz006.

Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration

I am very happy to announce a second paper published from our SNIS project on attitudes to immigrants: “Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration” by Sergi Pardos-Prado and Carla Xena out now in AJPS. It develops some of the key tenets of the SNIS project to new levels and provides a clean application.

Similar to what Marco Pecoraro concluded when looking at the risk of unemployment, Sergi and Carla come to the conclusion that economic competition theories cannot be dismissed. Here they focus on skills specificity and the ability to avoid competition with immigrant workers, and highlight that highly educated people are not immune to anti-immigrant attitudes.

Pardos‐Prado, S., & Xena, C. (2018.). Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration. American Journal of Political Science, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12406
Pecoraro, M., & Ruedin, D. (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), 628–666. https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12162

Skills, Education, and Attitudes to Foreigners

Re-reading some classics in the study of attitudes to foreigners or immigrants, it hit me how often we still rely on education when we mean skills. While education and skills tend to be correlated to some degree, the two are not quite the same. It is then surprising to see how many contributions rely on education when their theory of competitive threat and material interests really is about skills. Yes, often we only have education in the survey data we rely on, and indeed the results may indeed be similar irrespective of whether we use education or skills, but shouldn’t we be a bit more careful with the conclusions we draw when all we use are proxies? (especially when we rely on average levels of education, continue to make the assumption that all immigrants are low-skilled, or when we assume that respondent have a typical immigrant in mind when we ask about “immigrants” in the generic sense in a survey, rather than say asylum seekers).

Blinder, Scott. 2015. ‘Imagined Immigration: The Impact of Different Meanings of “Immigrants” in Public Opinion and Policy Debates in Britain’. Political Studies 63 (1): 80–100. doi:10.1111/1467-9248.12053.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2015. ‘A Foreigner Who Does Not Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes toward Equal Opportunities’. International Migration Review Early View: 1–53. doi:10.1111/imre.12162.