Kevin Lewis

June 26, 2020

The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States
Paola Giuliano & Marco Tabellini
NBER Working Paper, May 2020


We test the relationship between historical immigration to the United States and political ideology today. We hypothesize that European immigrants brought with them their preferences for the welfare state, and that this had a long-lasting effect on the political ideology of US born individuals. Our analysis proceeds in three steps. First, we document that the historical presence of European immigrants is associated with a more liberal political ideology and with stronger preferences for redistribution among US born individuals today. Next, we show that this correlation is not driven by the characteristics of the counties where immigrants settled or other specific, socioeconomic immigrants’ traits. Finally, we conjecture and provide evidence that immigrants brought with them their preferences for the welfare state from their countries of origin. Consistent with the hypothesis that immigration left its footprint on American ideology via cultural transmission from immigrants to natives, we show that our results are stronger when inter-group contact between natives and immigrants, measured with either intermarriage or residential integration, was higher. Our findings also indicate that immigrants influenced American political ideology during one of the largest episodes of redistribution in US history — the New Deal – and that such effects persisted after the initial shock.

Local economic benefits increase positivity toward foreigners
Steven Liao, Neil Malhotra & Benjamin Newman
Nature Human Behaviour, May 2020, Pages 481–488


Can exposure to discernible economic benefits associated with the presence of a high-socioeconomic status immigrant group reduce xenophobic and antiforeigner attitudes? We explore this question using the case of Chinese internationals in the United States and an exogenous influx of foreign capital associated with their presence. Using a difference-in-differences design with panel data, along with analyses of pooled cross-sectional data, we find that immigration attitudes, as well as views towards China, became more positive over time among Americans residing in locales whose economies were stimulated by Chinese foreign investments. Our findings have implications for research on public attitudes towards immigration in an era of growing flows of high-socioeconomic status immigrants to the United States and other immigrant-receiving nations.

I Have Nothing Against Them, But. . .
Leonardo Bursztyn et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2020


We study the use of excuses to justify socially stigmatized actions, such as opposing minority groups. Rationales to oppose minorities change some people’s private opinions, leading them to take anti-minority actions even if they are not prejudiced against minorities. When these rationales become common knowledge, prejudiced people who are not persuaded by the rationale can pool with unprejudiced people who are persuaded. This decreases the stigma associated with anti-minority expression, increasing public opposition to minority groups. We examine this mechanism through several large-scale experiments in the context of anti-immigrant behavior in the United States. In the first main experiment, participants learn about a study claiming that immigrants increase crime rates and then choose whether to authorize a publicly observable donation to an anti-immigrant organization. Informing participants that others will know that they learned about the study substantially increases donation rates. In the second main experiment, participants learn that a previous respondent authorized a donation to an anti-immigrant organization and then make an inference about the respondent’s motivations. Participants who are informed that the respondent learned about the study prior to authorizing the donation see the respondent as less intolerant and more easily persuadable.

A Populist Paradox? How Brexit Softened Anti-Immigrant Attitudes
Cassilde Schwartz et al.
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming


Recent political contests across Europe and North America have been propelled by a wave of populist, anti-immigrant resentment, and it was widely expected that these populist victories would further fan the flames of xenophobia. This article reports the results of an experiment around the Brexit referendum, designed to test how populist victories shape anti-immigrant attitudes. The study finds that anti-immigrant attitudes actually softened after the Brexit referendum, among both Leave and Remain supporters, and these effects persisted for several months. How could a right-wing, populist victory soften anti-immigrant attitudes? The authors use causal mediation analysis to understand this ‘populist paradox’. Among Leavers, a greater sense of control over immigration channelled the effects of the Brexit outcome onto anti-immigrant attitudes. Individuals' efforts to distance themselves from accusations of xenophobia and racism explains the softening of attitudes towards immigration observed among both Leavers and Remainers.

The Winners and Losers of Immigration: Evidence from Linked Historical Data
Joseph Price, Christian vom Lehn & Riley Wilson
NBER Working Paper, May 2020


Using recent innovations in linking historical U.S. Census data, we study the economic impacts of immigration on natives, including their geographic migration response. We find that the arrival of foreign immigrants significantly increases both native out-migration and in-migration. Accounting for this selective geographic migration, we find smaller economic impacts of immigration for native workers than previous work, including no positive impact on worker incomes. We present evidence of significant “losers” from increased immigration, namely workers who appear to be displaced by immigrant labor and move out of their local labor market, whereas the workers who remain see significant benefits. We also find that younger and lower-skilled workers are “losers” from increased immigration, whereas older and higher-skilled workers are “winners.”

Immigration enforcement, crime, and demography: Evidence from the Legal Arizona Workers Act
Aaron Chalfin & Monica Deza
Criminology & Public Policy, May 2020, Pages 515-562


This research leverages a remarkable natural experiment created by recent legislation in Arizona to study the impact of labor market immigration enforcement on crime. We show that Arizona's Mexican immigrant population decreased by as much as 20% in the wake of the passage of a broad‐based “E‐Verify” law requiring employers to verify the immigration status of new employees. In contrast to previous literature that studied traditional law enforcement‐based immigration enforcement programs such as “Secure Communities,” we find evidence that labor market‐based immigration enforcement led to a decline in some types of crime – particularly property crimes.

Do People Avoid Morally Relevant Information? Evidence from the Refugee Crisis
Eleonora Freddi
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


Combining click data from a Swedish newspaper and administrative data on asylum seekers in Sweden, I examine whether a larger presence of refugees in a municipality induces people to avoid news that may encourage welcoming the newcomers. Exploiting the unexpected inflow of refugees to Sweden during 2015 and their exogenous allocation across Swedish municipalities, I find that people living in municipalities where the relative number of refugees is larger read fewer articles about asylum seekers. The decrease in clicks is 36 percent larger for more empathic articles and is correlated with less engagement in activities aimed at welcoming refugees.

Immigration and Work Schedules: Theory and Evidence
Timothy Bond, Osea Giuntella & Jakub Lonsky
University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, May 2020


We develop a theoretical framework to analyze the effects of immigration on native job amenities, focusing on work schedules. Immigrants have a comparative advantage in production at, and lower disamenity cost for nighttime work, which leads them to disproportionately choose nighttime employment. Because day and night tasks are imperfect substitutes, the relative price of day tasks increases as their supply becomes relatively more scarce. We provide empirical support for our theory. Native workers in local labor markets that experienced higher rates of immigration are more likely to work day shifts and receive a lower compensating differential for nighttime work.

What is the impact of bilingual communication to mobilize Latinos? Exploratory evidence from experiments in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia
Christopher Mann, Melissa Michelson & Matt Davis
Electoral Studies, forthcoming


Should materials aimed at increasing Latino voter turnout be in English or bilingual? Credible, theoretical arguments can be made both ways: bilingual materials may be more effective if signaling cultural awareness or less effective if seen as pandering. We tested these competing hypotheses with two rounds of randomized field experiments in New Jersey and Virginia in 2015, and North Carolina in 2016. While some GOTV experiments have used bilingual mailers, previous scholarship has not tested whether bilingual mailers are more effective than English-language materials. In the 2015 elections, both treatments increased turnout, and the monolingual English version was more effective at increasing turnout than the bilingual version. These results are replicated in the high salience 2016 election in North Carolina. These results indicate that further research is needed about bilingual communication across political and demographic contexts and about how household composition may condition the effects of bilingual communication.

Antiblackness as a Logic for Anti‐Immigrant Resentment: Evidence From California
Cristina Mora & Tianna Paschel
Sociological Forum, forthcoming


Drawing on data from a novel survey of Californians, this article examines the relationship between anti‐immigrant resentment and antiblackness. Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in research on anti‐immigrant resentment, as well as a steady growth in public opinion literature on antiblack bias. Nonetheless, there are almost no studies that examine the relationship between these types of attitudes. Using two different measures of anti‐immigrant resentment and three different measures of antiblack bias, we find that antiblackness among those Californians surveyed was significantly and robustly correlated with anti‐immigrant resentment. Our findings suggest that even in a state where there is a relatively small black population and where there is little overlap between the categories of “black” and “immigrant,” attitudes toward blacks may be shaping attitudes toward immigrants. The findings suggest a need to move beyond dyadic theories of othering and in doing so, to think more critically about how the racialization of one group can shape the racialization of other groups.

Leaving the Enclave: Historical Evidence on Immigrant Mobility from the Industrial Removal Office
Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan & Dylan Connor
NBER Working Paper, June 2020


We study a program that funded 39,000 Jewish households in New York City to leave enclave neighborhoods circa 1910. Compared to their neighbors with the same occupation and income score at baseline, program participants earned 4 percent more ten years after removal, and these gains persisted to the next generation. Men who left enclaves also married spouses with less Jewish names, but they did not choose less Jewish names for their children. Gains were largest for men who spent more years outside of an enclave. Our results suggest that leaving ethnic neighborhoods could facilitate economic advancement and assimilation into the broader society, but might make it more difficult to retain cultural identity.

Se Acabaron Las Palabras: A Post-Mortem Flores v. Arizona Disproportional Funding Analysis of Targeted English Learner Expenditures
Davíd Martínez & Daniel Spikes
Educational Policy, forthcoming


Arizona has played a large part in the development and implementation of policy that directly inhibits equity of opportunity for the English learner (EL) population, the largest and most damaging of which came out of legislation passed due to the Flores v. Arizona case which concluded in 2015. This research article seeks to critically challenge how Arizona-reified barriers to learning ELs continue to experience. This article serves as a post-mortem to Flores v. Arizona and measures the relationship between targeted EL expenditures as a function of the percentage of ELs within districts. The findings suggest that the scale of ELs within districts is inversely related to targeted EL expenditures. Furthermore, Arizona has reified laws that inhibit EL educational opportunities across the state.


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