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Nativism or Economic Threat: Attitudes Toward Immigrants During the Great Recession


Judith L. Goldstein, Margaret E. Peters

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Goldstein, Judith L. & Margaret E. Peters (2014), Nativism or Economic Threat: Attitudes Toward Immigrants During the Great Recession. International Interactions: Empirical and Theoretical Research in International Relations 40(3):376-401. DOI: 10.1080/03050629.2014.899219
To better evaluate the weight of economic versus cultural factors in determining individual attitudes toward open borders, this article reports on a survey experiment conducted over the course of the Great Recession. Over the course of the recession, we measured changes in attitudes on both immigration and trade policies, controlling for economic circumstance. Based on the data provided by respondents on both their current salaries as well as a subjective assessment of their economic well-being, we illustrate how both objective and subjective perceptions of the economy interact with cultural factors and influence attitudes on open borders. The panel provides a unique picture of the “stickiness” of policy attitudes in hard economic times, and by extension, the level of commitment in the United States to globalization.
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