Elias Naumann, Lukas F. Stötzer, Giuseppe Pietrantuono
Attitudes towards highly skilled and low-skilled immigration in Europe: A survey experiment in 15 European countries

European Journal of Political Research, 2018: 57, Heft 4, S. 1009-1030
ISSN: 0304-4130 (print); 1475-6765 (online)

To what extent do economic concerns drive anti-migrant attitudes? Key theoretical arguments extract two central motives: increased labour market competition and the fiscal burden linked to the influx of migrants. This article provides new evidence regarding the impact of material self-interest on attitudes towards immigrants. It reports the results of a survey experiment embedded in representative surveys in 15 European countries before and after the European refugee crisis in 2014. As anticipated by the fiscal burden argument, it is found that rich natives prefer highly skilled over low-skilled migration more than low-income respondents do. Moreover, the study shows that these tax concerns among the wealthy are stronger if fiscal exposure to migration is high. No support is found for the labour market competition argument predicting that natives will be most opposed to migrants with similar skills. The results suggest that highly skilled migrants are preferred over low-skilled migrants irrespective of natives’ skill levels.