The Journal of Politics

Articles

Public Opinion Toward Immigration Reform: The Role of Economic Motivations

Jack Citrina1, Donald P. Greena2, Christopher Mustea3 and Cara Wonga3

a1 University of California, Berkeley

a2 Yale University

a3 University of California, Berkeley

Abstract

This paper tests hypotheses concerning the effects of economic factors on public opinion toward immigration policy. Using the 1992 and 1994 National Election Study surveys, probit models are employed to test diverse conceptualizations of the effects of economic adversity and anxiety on opposition to immigration. The results indicate that personal economic circumstances play little role in opinion formation, but beliefs about the state of the national economy, anxiety over taxes, and generalized feelings about Hispanics and Asians, the major immigrant groups, are significant determinants of restrictionist sentiment. This restricted role of economic motives rooted in one's personal circumstances held true across ethnic groups, among residents in communities with different numbers of foreign-born, and in both 1992 and 1994.

(Accepted March 20 1995)

(Received May 13 1996)

Jack Citrin is professor of political science, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Donald P. Green is professor of political science, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-3532.

Christopher Muste is a Ph.D. candidate in political science, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Cara Wong is a Ph.D. candidate in political science, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720.

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