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Does economic self-interest determine public attitudes toward immigrants? An econometric case study in Japan

Shingo Takahashi () and Ana Maria Takahashi ()
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Shingo Takahashi: Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hiroshima University
Ana Maria Takahashi: Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Department of Global Studies, Faculty of Global Engagement / Research Fellow, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University

No 2201, Discussion Papers from Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University

Abstract: We examine two economic self-interest hypotheses of the determinants of public attitudes towards immigrants: (1) labor market hypothesis, which states that the employment and wage impacts of immigration determine public attitudes and (2) the welfare state hypoth- esis, which states that natives negatively perceive immigrants for fear of straining the country’s welfare budget. The first hypothesis predicts that natives’ education will af- fect pro-immigrant attitudes more positively when the immigrants are from lower-income countries. The second hypothesis predicts that natives’ income will affect the pro-immigrant attitudes more negatively when the immigrants are from lower-income countries. We use the Japanese General Social Survey, which asks respondents’ tolerance toward immigrants from different countries, allowing us to remove the unobserved individual characteristics in a fixed effect estimation. Our results show no difference in education and income effects on pro-immigrant attitudes regardless of whether immigrants are from high- or low-income countries. We conclude that economic self-interests do not explain Japanese public attitudes towards immigrants. We discuss policy implications on how to improve public attitudes to- wards immigrants.

Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2022-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mig and nep-ure
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