Exposure to Immigration and Admission Preferences: Evidence from France
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To what extent does exposure to immigration condition the types of immigrants citizens are willing to admit? Extending the conjoint approach adopted by Hainmueller and Hopkins (Am J Pol Sci 59(3):529–548, 2015), this study investigates whether the admission preferences of French natives vary based on personal exposure to immigration, as proxied by local demographics and self-reported social contact. Methodologically, we propose and apply new methods to compare attribute salience across different subgroups of respondents. We find that although an inflow of immigrants into respondents’ municipalities has a limited influence on how French natives evaluate prospective immigrants, social contact with immigrants matters. Specifically, French natives who do not frequently interact with immigrants are significantly less favorable toward immigrants from non-western countries, and more favorable toward immigrants from western countries. In contrast, natives who report frequent social interactions with immigrants place less weight on nationality as a criterion for immigrant admission. Although scholars have noted an increasing consensus in immigration attitudes across developed democracies, our findings suggest that individual experiences with immigration condition preferences for immigration policy at the national level.
KeywordsImmigration Social contact theory Group threat theory Conjoint analysis France
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