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Good for the Common Good: Sociotropic Concern and Double Standards toward High- and Low-Skilled Immigrants in Six Wealthy Countries

Rueyling Tzeng and Ming-Chang Tsai ()
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Rueyling Tzeng: Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica
Ming-Chang Tsai: Academia Sinica

Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, 2020, vol. 152, issue 2, No 3, 473-493

Abstract: Abstract Immigration policy has conventionally implied a double standard, in which high-skilled immigrants are more acceptable due to their potential contribution to the national economy, little welfare burden, and better cultural adaption, while low-skilled ones are not favored, because of a belief in their limited contribution to the common good. In contrast to the egocentric interest explanation, we emphasize the importance of such sociotropic concerns and suggest that acceptance of immigrants with different skill levels is an outcome of perceived growth and distributional impacts or threatened cultural boundaries. Drawing data from the 2011 Transatlantic Trends: Immigration survey, we performed seemingly unrelated regression modelling to compare natives’ attitudinal responses in six wealthy countries. We found that in addition to the evidence that high-skilled immigrants are favored over low-skilled ones, the worry about welfare burden to the nation is one of the main factors causing locals to dislike low-skilled immigrants. The public who perceive immigrants’ threats to the national economy in terms of taking jobs away in general are also likely to disfavor high-skilled immigrants. Expectations of cultural assimilation are somewhat detached from acceptance of high-skilled immigrants. As the research results imply clear limitation of the double-standard perspective, we propose a new scheme for understanding both double- and single-standard views and incorporate these variations into the sociotropic theory and future research design.

Keywords: Attitudes toward immigration; Sociotropic concerns; Self-interest; Double standard; Welfare usage; Cultural threat (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s11205-020-02429-1

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