Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Migration und Sozialstaat

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Which factors affect the acceptance of migration?


Another part of our project is concerned with the effect of migrants' welfare dependence on their acceptance among current residents. The research will distinguish between acceptance of different groups of immigrants.

Facchini & Maya (2009) find that while the potentially higher tax burden induced by immigration leads to lower acceptance of immigrants among high income earners, cuts in welfare spending reduces acceptance among low income respondents. What is more, many societies prefer high-skilled over low-skilled immigration, because cultural evaluation criteria (e.g. belief in traditional values, prejudice and security issues) play an important role in determining attitudes toward immigration (Facchini & Mayda 2012; Helbling & Kriesi 2014). Competition on the labor market only plays a minor role regarding these attitudes (Dustmann & Preston 2007).

This work package, therefore, expands theoretically the econometric standard model of attitudes towards immigration by integrating behavior-theoretical approaches. It aims to incorporate cultural prejudice (e.g. Akerlof & Kranton 2010) as well as people's overemphasis on the subjectively felt short-run costs and underestimated benefits of immigration in the long run as explanatory variables (Etzionie 2010).

The analysis thereby determines attitudes towards migration in different countries at different points of time in the context of exogenous shocks such as (a) economic recessions, (b) increased immigration periods and (c) public discussions around welfare or pension-system reforms. These 'shocks' are expected to heighten the salience of debates around immigration.


Akerlof, G. A., & Kranton, R. E. (2010). Identity Economics: How Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Dustmann, C., & Preston, I. P. (2007). Racial and economic factors in attitudes to immigration. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 7(1).
Etzioni, A. (2010). Behavioral economics: A methodological note. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31(1), 51-54.
Facchini, G., & Mayda, A. M. (2009). Does the welfare state affect individual attitudes toward immigrants?
Evidence across countries. The review of economics and statistics, 91(2), 295-314.
Facchini, G., & Mayda, A. M. (2012). Individual attitudes towards skilled migration: An empirical analysis across countries. The World Economy, 35(2), 183-196.
Helbling, M., & Kriesi, H. (2014). Why Citizens Prefer High- Over Low-Skilled Immigrants. Labor Market Competition, Welfare State, and Deservingness. European Sociological Review, 30 (5), 595–614.