Kevin Lewis

December 01, 2017

White Look-Alikes: Mainstream Culture Adoption Makes Immigrants “Look” Phenotypically White
Jonas Kunst, John Dovidio & Ron Dotsch
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

White Americans generally equate “being American” with “being White.” In six studies, we demonstrate that White Americans perceive immigrants who adopt American mainstream culture as racially White and, reciprocally, perceive White-looking immigrants as assimilating more. In Studies 1 and 2, participants visually represented immigrants who adopted U.S. culture by acculturating to mainstream American culture or by holding a common or dual identity as more phenotypically White and less stereotypic in appearance. In Studies 3 and 4, these processes explained why participants were less likely to racially profile immigrants but also regarded them as less qualified for integration support. In Study 5, participants perceived light skin to fit to high U.S. culture adoption and dark skin to low U.S. culture adoption. Finally, in Study 6, light-skinned immigrants were seen as less threatening because they were perceived as assimilating more. Immigrants’ acculturation orientation and appearance interact and shape how they are evaluated.

Documenting the unauthorized: Political responses to unauthorized immigration
Nicole Rae Baerg, Julie Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe-Agnoli
Economics & Politics, forthcoming

Cultural prejudice rather than self interest is the conventional wisdom for why voters respond negatively to immigration. Using a new measure of unauthorized immigrants based on self-reported invalid social security numbers, we show that voters’ responses are more nuanced than mere prejudice against minorities. Using county level data from the U.S. state of Georgia, we find that voters in counties with above median levels of unauthorized workers are more likely to support the Republican Party. We also find that wealthier counties and wealthier voters are most likely to respond negatively to the unauthorized. Our evidence warns against arguments that depict opposition to immigration as motivated solely by xenophobia and cultural fears among lower income Whites.

Ethnoreligious Identity, Immigration, and Redistribution
Stuart Soroka et al.
Journal of Experimental Political Science, forthcoming

Do increasing, and increasingly diverse, immigration flows lead to declining support for redistributive policy? This concern is pervasive in the literatures on immigration, multiculturalism and redistribution, and in public debate as well. The literature is nevertheless unable to disentangle the degree to which welfare chauvinism is related to (a) immigrant status or (b) ethnic difference. This paper reports on results from a web-based experiment designed to shed light on this issue. Representative samples from the United States, Quebec, and the “Rest-of-Canada” responded to a vignette in which a hypothetical social assistance recipient was presented as some combination of immigrant or not, and Caucasian or not. Results from the randomized manipulation suggest that while ethnic difference matters to welfare attitudes, in these countries it is immigrant status that matters most. These findings are discussed in light of the politics of diversity and recognition, and the capacity of national policies to address inequalities.

Computerization and Immigration: Theory and Evidence from the United States
Gaetano Basso, Giovanni Peri & Ahmed Rahman
NBER Working Paper, October 2017

The changes in technology that took place in the US during the last three decades, mainly due to the introduction of computerization and automation, have been characterized as “routine-substituting.” They have reduced the demand for routine tasks, but have increased the demand for analytical tasks. Indirectly they have also increased the demand for manual tasks and service oriented occupations. Little is known about how these changes have impacted immigration, or task specialization between immigrants and natives. In this paper we show that such technological progress has attracted skilled and unskilled immigrants, with the latter group increasingly specialized in manual-service occupations. We also show that the immigration response has helped to reduce the polarization of employment for natives. We explain these facts with a model of technological progress and endogenous immigration. Simulations show that immigration in the presence of technological change attenuates the drop in routine employment and the increase in service employment for natives.

Do International Students Crowd-Out or Cross-Subsidize Americans in Higher Education?
Kevin Shih
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Recent growth in international enrollment at U.S. universities has raised controversy. While critics accuse international students of displacing American students, university administrators have argued that they provide much needed tuition revenue. This paper examines how international students impact domestic enrollment, focusing on a unique boom and bust in international matriculation into U.S. graduate programs from 1995-2005. Overall foreign students appear to increase domestic enrollment. This positive effect is linked to cross-subsidization, whereby high net tuition payments from foreign students help subsidize the cost of enrolling additional domestic students.

Give a Fish or Teach Fishing? Partisan Affiliation of U.S. Governors and the Poverty Status of Immigrants
Sekou Keita & Pierre Mandon
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

This paper investigates how governors' partisan affiliation affects the poverty status of immigrants to the U.S. To this end, we compare the poverty outcomes of immigrants in states ruled by Democratic governors relative to the outcomes for those in states ruled by Republican governors. We employ a regression discontinuity design using the re-centered Democratic margin of victory as a running variable, to overcome the identification challenge posed by confounding factors. Consistent with the literature on partisan affiliation, we find that immigrants are more likely to get out of poverty in states with Democratic governors than states with Republican governors. Our results are submitted to a variety of robustness checks and sensitivity tests, to assess the validity of the identification strategy, and highlight conditional lame-duck effects. A formal mediation analysis reveals that the empirical results are mediated through better access to the labor market and possibly through higher wages and labor earnings for immigrants. Last but not least, we check for alternative hypotheses and potential detrimental effects for native populations.

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor and We Might Buy Them Dinner: Social Capital, Immigration, and Welfare Generosity in the American States
Daniel Hawes & Austin Michael McCrea
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

A long-standing debate persists regarding how social capital relates to diversity and inequality in the American states. Putnam argues social capital leads to greater equality and tolerance; however, others find that it increases racial inequality. We build on Soss, Fording, and Schram’s Racial Classification Model (RCM) and theorize that social capital enhances social trust and empathy in homogeneous contexts and favors paternalistic and punitive social controls in diverse contexts. We test this using the case of immigration and welfare generosity following the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. Using state-level data from 1997 to 2009, we find that under conditions of low immigration, social capital is associated with increased social trust and empathy; however, as immigration increases, social capital pivots toward favoring mechanisms of social control. Specifically, social capital increases Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefit levels, but only when immigration levels are low. In high-immigration contexts, social capital is associated with decreased welfare generosity.

Becoming White: How Mass Warfare Turned Immigrants into Americans
Soumyajit Mazumder
Harvard Working Paper, November 2017

How do groups on the social periphery assimilate into the social core of a nation? I develop a theory of cultural assimilation that highlights the way in which mass mobilization around warfare can reduce ethnic stratifications by incorporating low-status ethnic groups into the dominant national culture. To test the theory, I focus on the case of World War I in the United States – a period that closely followed a massive wave of immigration into the United States. Using an instrumental variables strategy exploiting the combination of the exogenous timing of the war and features of the draft system, I show that individuals of foreign, European nativity – especially, the Italians and Eastern Europeans – were more likely to assimilate into American society. I also provide evidence of backlash against Germans despite their service for the United States in World War I. The theory and results contribute to our understanding of the ways in which states make identity and the prospects for immigrant assimilation in an age without mass warfare.

Contact Reduces Immigration-Related Fears for Leftist but Not for Rightist Voters
Jonathan Homola & Margit Tavits
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

How does contact with nonnatives affect immigration-related fears? While there is strong general support for the argument that intergroup contact decreases intergroup prejudice and fear, previous research arrives at mixed conclusions when applying this argument to the study of natives’ attitudes toward immigrants. We propose that people’s preexisting partisan affinities condition the effect of contact, which may explain the mixed findings. Building on the literature on motivated reasoning, we argue that contact reduces immigration-related threats among leftist voters, but have a threat-increasing or no effect among rightist voters. We find support for our argument using original surveys conducted in two very different contexts: the United States and Germany.

Wait time for permanent residency and the retention of immigrant doctoral recipients in the U.S.
Pooja Khosla
Economic Analysis and Policy, March 2018, Pages 33-43

More than 65% of foreign doctoral recipients remain and work in the U.S. after graduation. Using data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates, the Survey of Doctoral Recipients, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this paper estimates the impact of wait time for permanent residency (Green Card status) on the migration decisions of foreign doctoral recipients graduating from U.S. universities. Results indicate that for a recent immigrant doctoral recipient, an additional year of wait time decreases the probability that he or she will remain in the U.S. by 5.5 percentage points. I also find that the negative impact of wait time on immigrant retention in the U.S. is temporary: Five years after graduation, there is no difference in retention between foreign doctoral recipients who faced long Green Card wait times and those who faced none.

Climate of migration? How climate triggered migration from southwest Germany to North America during the 19th century
Rüdiger Glaser, Iso Himmelsbach & Annette Bösmeier
Climate of the Past, November 2017, Pages 1573-1592

This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on the extent to which climate and climatic change can have a negative impact on societies by triggering migration, or even contribute to conflict. It summarizes results from the transdisciplinary project Climate of migration (funded 2010–2014), whose innovative title was created by Franz Mauelshagen and Uwe Lübken. The overall goal of this project was to analyze the relation between climatic and socioeconomic parameters and major migration waves from southwest Germany to North America during the 19th century. The article assesses the extent to which climatic conditions triggered these migration waves. The century investigated was in general characterized by the Little Ice Age with three distinct cooling periods, causing major glacier advances in the alpine regions and numerous climatic extremes such as major floods, droughts and severe winter. Societal changes were tremendous, marked by the warfare during the Napoleonic era (until 1815), the abolition of serfdom (1817), the bourgeois revolution (1847/48), economic freedom (1862), the beginning of industrialization accompanied by large-scale rural–urban migration resulting in urban poverty, and finally by the foundation of the German Empire in 1871. The presented study is based on quantitative data and a qualitative, information-based discourse analysis. It considers climatic conditions as well as socioeconomic and political issues, leading to the hypothesis of a chain of effects ranging from unfavorable climatic conditions to a decrease in crop yields to rising cereal prices and finally to emigration. These circumstances were investigated extensively for the peak emigration years identified with each migration wave. Furthermore, the long-term relations between emigration and the prevailing climatic conditions, crop yields and cereal prices were statistically evaluated with a sequence of linear models which were significant with explanatory power between 22 and 38 %.

Developmental associations between bilingual experience and inhibitory control trajectories in Head Start children
Jimena Santillán & Atika Khurana
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Children from lower socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds tend to be at-risk for executive function (EF) impairments by the time they are in preschool, placing them at an early disadvantage for academic success. The present study examined the potentially protective role of bilingual experience on the development of inhibitory control (IC) in 1146 Head Start preschoolers who were followed for an 18-month period during the transition to kindergarten as part of the longitudinal Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) 2009 study. Using three waves of data, we predicted individual variation in developmental trajectories of IC for three groups that differed in bilingual experience — English monolinguals, Spanish-English bilinguals, and a group of children who transitioned from being Spanish monolingual to Spanish-English bilinguals during the course of the study. Compared to their English monolingual peers, bilingual children from Spanish-speaking homes showed higher IC performance at Head Start entry, as well as steeper IC growth over time. Children who were Spanish monolingual at the beginning of Head Start showed the lowest IC performance at baseline. However, their rate of IC growth exceeded that of children who remained English monolingual and did not differ from that of their peers who entered Head Start being bilingual. These results suggest that acquiring bilingualism and continued bilingual experience are associated with more rapid IC development during the transition from preschool to kindergarten in children from lower SES backgrounds.

Moving Up and Down the Ladder: Perceived Social Mobility and Emotional Dispositions Among South Florida's Immigrants
Elizabeth Vaquera & Elizabeth Aranda
Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Migrating to a new country is often associated with difficulties such as social isolation, financial strain, language barriers, and cultural differences. Less is known about how social mobility brought about by migration may be related to the emotional dispositions of immigrants (also referred to as subjective well-being). To examine this relationship, we utilize data from a representative sample of 1,268 first-generation immigrants from 80 different countries living in South Florida. Changes in perceived social mobility between the homeland and the United States — moving up and down the socioeconomic ladder — are indeed associated with differences in immigrants' negative dispositions. We draw from literature on expectations, social comparisons, and subjective class status to explain these findings. We do not find a statistically significant association between changes in socioeconomic status and positive dispositions, which may suggest that losses outweigh migration-related gains. Additionally, findings reveal that nondominant groups fare worse than Cubans (the dominant group in the region) with regard to dispositions. Social comparisons to the dominant ethnic group may explain this, as well as perceptions of relative deprivation experienced by groups not favored by immigration policies and underrepresented in social and economic institutions. We conclude by discussing implications on how negative emotional dispositions represent risk factors that could affect immigrants' mental health.

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