Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Impact of Economic and Cultural Cues on Support for Immigration in Canada and the United States

  • Allison Harell (a1), Stuart Soroka (a2), Shanto Iyengar (a3) and Nicholas Valentino (a4)

Abstract

Abstract. Past research suggests that citizens' attitudes toward immigration are driven by perceptions of immigrants' (a) economic status and (b) ethnicity. In this study, we use an online survey conducted with a representative sample of Canadians to test to what extent economic and cultural cues influence support for individual immigrants. In particular, by drawing on a parallel US survey, we explore whether Canadians' relatively unique (positive) attitudes toward immigration make them more immune to economic and cultural threat manipulations than their American counterparts. The analysis is based on an experimental design embedded in a series of immigrant vignettes that vary the ethnoracial background and social status of an individual applying for immigration. We examine overall support for immigration, as well as the extent to which both ethnic and economic status cues affect support for individual immigrants. We also explore variance within Canada, specifically, in Quebec versus the rest of the country. Results offer new and unique information on the structure of attitudes on diversity and immigration in Canada. Most importantly, they suggest the relative importance of economic cues in support for immigration in both countries.

Résumé. Divers travaux de recherche ont suggéré que les attitudes des citoyens au sujet de l'immigration sont influencées par leur perception (a) du statut économique et (b) de l'ethnie des immigrants. Afin de tenter de savoir jusqu'à quel point les informations socioéconomiques et culturelles ont effectivement un impact sur le soutien des citoyens envers les immigrants, la présente étude fait usage d'un sondage mené en ligne avec un échantillon représentatif de la population canadienne. En nous appuyant sur un sondage américain similaire, nous cherchons plus précisément à savoir si l'attitude (positive) relativement unique des Canadiens vis-à-vis de l'immigration les rend moins susceptibles d'être manipulés par l'évocation de menaces économiques et culturelles que leurs voisins américains. Notre analyse se fonde sur une expérience utilisant une série de vignettes qui modifient les caractéristiques ethnoraciales ainsi que le statut social d'un individu procédant à une demande d'immigration. Nous examinons non seulement le soutien pour l'immigration en général, mais aussi la mesure dans laquelle les informations relatives à l'ethnie et au statut économique d'un immigrant affectent le soutien que les citoyens lui offrent. Nous étudions aussi la variance à l'intérieur du Canada, plus spécifiquement entre le Québec et le reste du pays. Les résultats ainsi obtenus fournissent de l'information nouvelle et unique ayant trait à la structure des attitudes par rapport à la diversité et l'immigration au Canada. De surcroît, ces résultats suggèrent le rôle relativement important que jouent les informations d'ordre socioéconomique dans le soutien de l'immigration tant aux États-Unis qu'au Canada.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Allison Harell, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, harell.allison@uqam.ca
Stuart Soroka, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. West, Montréal, QC H3A 2T7, stuart.soroka@mcgill.ca
Shanto Iyengar, Stanford, CA 94305, siyengar@stanford.edu
Nicholas Valentino, University of Michigan, 5700 Haven Hall, 505 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045, nvalenti@umich.edu

References

Hide All
Adams, Michael. 2007. Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism. Toronto: Viking Canada.
Aksoy, Deniz. 2011. “The Flag or the Pocketbook: To What Are Immigrants a Threat.” International Migration Review 49: 14682435.
Ayers, John W., Hofstetter, C. Richard, Schnakenberg, Keith and Kolody, Bohdan. 2009. “Is Immigration a Racial Issue? Anglo Attitudes on Immigration Policies in a Border County.” Social Science Quarterly 90 (3): 593610.
Banting, Keith, Johnston, Richard and Soroka, Stuart. 2006. “Immigration and Redistribution in the Global Era.” In Globalization and Social Redistribution, ed. Wallerstein, M., Bardhan, P. and Bowles, S.. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Banting, Keith and Soroka, Stuart. 2012. “Minority Nationalism and Immigrant Integration in Canada.” In Nations and Nationalism 18 (1): 156176.
Berry, John W., Kalin, Rudolf, and Taylor, Donald M.. 1977. Multiculturalism and Ethnic Attitudes in Canada. Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.
Berry, John W. and Kalin, Rudolf. 1995. “Multicultural and Ethnic Attitudes in Canada: An Overview of the 1991 National Survey.” Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 27: 301.
Berry, John, Kalin, Rudolf and Taylor, Donald. 1976. Multiculturalism and Ethnic Attitudes in Canada. Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.
Bilodeau, Antoine, White, Stephen and Nevitte, Neil. 2010. “The Development of Dual Loyalties: Immigrants' Integration to Canadian Regional Dynamics.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 43 (3): 515–44.
Bloemraad, Irene. 2006. Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Blumer, Herbert. 1958. “Race Prejudice as a Sense of Group Position.” Pacific Sociological Review 1 (1): 37.
Bouchard, G. and Taylor, C.. 2008. Fonder l'avenir: Le temps de la conciliation. Montreal: Commission de Consultation sur les Pratiques d'Accommodement Reliées aux Différence Culturelles.
Brader, Ted, Valentino, Nicholas and Suhay, Elizabeth. 2008. “What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Group Cues, and Immigration.” American Journal of Political Science 52 (4): 959–78.
Breton, R. 1999. “Intergroup Competition in the Symbolic Construction of Canadian Society.” In Race and Ethnic Relations in Canada, ed. Li, P.. Don Mills ON: Oxford University Press.
Burns, Peter and Gimpel, James. 2000. “Economic Insecurity, Prejudicial Stereotypes, and Public Opinion on Immigration Policy.” Political Science Quarterly 115 (2): 201–25.
Carens, Joseph. 1995. “Immigration, Political Community, and the Transformation of Identity: Quebec's Immigration Politics in Critical Perspective.” In Is Quebec Nationalism Just? Perspectives from Anglophone Canada, ed. Carens, Joseph. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.
Chandler, Charles and Tsai, Yung-mei. 2001. “Social Factors Influencing Immigration Attitudes: An Analysis of Data from the General Social Survey.” The Social Science Journal 38 (2): 177–88.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada. 2010. Canada Facts and Figures: Immigrant Overview, Permanent and Temporary Residents 2009. Ottawa ON.
Citrin, Jack, Green, Donald, Muste, Christopher and Wong, Cara. 1997. “Public Opinion toward Immigration Reform: The Role of Economic Motivations.” Journal of Politics 59 (3): 858–81.
Citrin, Jack, Reingold, Beth and Green, Donald. 1990. “American Identity and the Politics of Ethnic Change.” Journal of Politics 52 (4): 1124–54.
Citrin, Jack and Sides, John. 2008. “Immigration and the Imagined Community in Europe and the United States.” Political Studies 56 (1): 3356.
Coebanu, Alin and Escandell, Xavier. 2010. “Comparative Analyses of Public Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Using Multinational Survey Data: A Review of Theories and Research.” Annual Review of Sociology 36: 309–28.
Coenders, Marcel, Lubbers, Marcel, Scheepers, Peer and Verkuyten, Maykel. 2008. “More than Two Decades of Changing Ethnic Attitudes in the Netherlands.” Journal of Social Issues 64 (2): 269–85.
Dixon, Travis and Maddox, Keith. 2005. “Skin Tone, Crime News and Social Reality Judgments: Priming the Stereotype of the Dark and Dangerous Black Criminal.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 35 (8): 1555–70.
Dustmann, Christian and Preston, Ian P.. 2007. “Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration.” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy 7 (1). http://www.bepress.com/bejeap/vol7/iss1/art62 (November 11, 2011).
Eberhardt, Jennifer. 2005. “Imaging race.” American Psychologist 60 (2): 181–90.
Esses, Victoria, Jackson, Lynne and Armstrong, Tamara. 1998. “Intergroup Competition and Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration: An Instrumental Model of Group Conflict.” Journal of Social Issues 54 (4): 699724.
Facchini, Giovanni and Mayda, Anna Maria. 2009. “Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants? Evidence across Countries.” Review of Economics and Statistics 91 (2): 295314.
Fetzer, Joel S. 2000. Public Attitudes toward Immigration in the United States, France and Germany. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
Gagnon, Alain-G. and Iacovino, Raffaele. 2007. Federalism, Citizenship and Quebec: Debating Multinationalism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Gidengil, E., Blais, A., Nadeau, R. and Nevitte, N.. 2003. “La Langue Française et l'Insécurité Culturelle.” In Québec: Etat et Société, ed. Gagnon, A.-G.. Montreal: Québec Amérique.
Gilliam, F.D., Iyengar, S., Simon, A. and Wright, O.. 1996. “Crime in Black and White: The Violent, Scary World of Local News.” Harvard International Journal of Press and Politics 1 (3): 623.
Goff, Phillip, Eberhardt, Jennifer, Williams, Melissa and Jackson, Mathew Christian. 2008. “Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanisation and Contemporary Consequences.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 94 (2): 292306.
Green, Eva G. T. 2007. “Guarding the Gates of Europe: A Typological Analysis of Immigration Attitudes across 21 Countries.” International Journal of Psychology 42 (6): 365–79.
Green, Eva G.T. 2009. “Who Can Enter? A Multilevel Analysis on Public Support for Immigration Criteria across 20 European Countries.” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations 12 (1): 4160.
Gyimah-Brempong, Kwabena and Price, Gregory. 2006. “Crime and Punishment: And Skin Hue Too?American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 96(2): 246250.
Ha, Shang E. 2010. “The Consequences of Multiracial Contexts on Public Attitudes toward Immigration.” Political Research Quarterly 63 (1): 2942.
Hainmueller, Jens, and Hiscox, Michael. 2007. “Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes toward Immigration in Europe.” International Organization 61: 399442.
Hainmueller, Jens and Hiscox, Michael. 2010. “Attitudes toward Highly Skilled and Low-Skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment.” American Political Science Review 104 (1): 6184.
Hanson, Gordon, Scheve, Kenneth and Slaughter, Matthew. 2007. “Public Finance and Individual Preferences over Globalization Strategies.” Economics and Politics 19 (1): 133.
Harell, Allison. 2009. “Minority–Majority Relations in Canada: The Rights Regime and the Adoption of Multicultural Values.” Paper presented at Canadian Political Science Association, May 27–29, Ottawa.
Helly, Denise. 2002. “Le lien societal: Une enquète à Montréal.” GLOBE : Revue international d'études québécoises 5 (2): 137–70.
Helly, Denise and van Schendel, Nicolas. 1995. Appartenir au Québec: Citoyenneté, nation et société civile. Quebec: Les Presses de L'Université Laval.
Henry, Francis and Tator, Carol. 2009. The Colour of Democracy: Racism in Canadian Society. 4th ed.Toronto: Nelson Publishing.
Hiebert, Daniel. 2006. “Winning, Losing, and Still Playing the Game: The Political Economy of Immigration in Canada.” Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 97 (1): 3848.
Hopkins, Daniel J. 2010. “Politicized Places: Explaining Where and When Immigrants Provoke Local Opposition.” American Political Science Review 104 (1): 4060.
Hunter, Margaret L. 2005. Race, Gender and the Politics of Skin Tone. New York: Routledge.
IPSOS Polls. 2004. Reactions to Immigration in Leading Nations. Associated Press.
Iyengar, Shanto, Messing, Solomon and Bailenson, Jeremy. 2010. “Do Explicit Racial Cues Influence Candidate Preference? The Case of Skin Complexion in the 2008 Campaign.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the APSA, Washington.
Iyengar, Shanto and Morin, Richard. 2006. “Natural Disasters in Black and White: How Racial Cues Influenced Public Response to Hurricane Katrina.” WashingtonPost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/06/07/AR2006060701177.html (November 11, 2011).
Jackson, James S., Brown, T. Kendrick, Brown, Tony N. and Marks, Bryant. 2001. “Contemporary Immigration Policy Orientations among Dominant-Group Members in Western Europe.” Journal of Social Issues 57 (3): 431–56.
Kessler, Alan and Freeman, Gary. 2005. “Public Opinion in the EU on Immigration from Outside the Community.” Journal of Common Market Studies 43 (4): 825–50.
Key, V.O. 1949. Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: Knopf.
Kinder, Donald R. and Kam, Cindy D.. 2009. Us against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kinder, Donald and Sears, David. 1981. “Prejudice and Politics: Symbolic Racism versus Racial Threats to the Good Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 40: 414–31.
Koopmans, Ruud, Statham, Paul, Giugni, Marco and Passy, Florence. 2005. Contested Citizenship: Immigration and Cultural Diversity in Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Kymlicka, Will. 2003. “Canadian Multiculturalism in Historical and Comparative Perspective: Is Canada Unique?Constitutional Forum 13 (1): 18.
Labelle, Micheline and Rocher, François. 2004. “Debating Citizenship in Canada: The Collide of Two Nation-Building Projects.” In From Subjects to Citizens: A Hundred Years of Citizenship in Australia and Canada, ed. Boyer, P.. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
Lahav, G. 2004. Immigration and Politics in the New Europe: Reinventing Borders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lambert, R. and Curtis, J.. 1982. “The French and English Canadian Language Communities and Multicultural Attitudes.” Canadian Ethnic Studies 16: 3046.
Lambert, R. and Curtis, J.. 1983. “Opposition to Multiculturalism among Québécois and English-Canadians.” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 20: 193206.
Lambert, R. and Curtis, J.. 2008. “Opposition to Multiculturalism among Québécois and English-Canadians.” Canadian Review of Sociology 20: 193207.
Lapinsky, J., Peltola, P., Shaw, G. and Yang, A.. 1997. “Trends: Immigrants and Immigration.” Public Opinion Quarterly 61: 356–83.
Lee, Yueh-Tink, and Ottati, Victor. 2002. “Attitudes toward U.S. Immigration Policy: The Roles of In-Group Out-Group Bias, Economic Concern and Obedience to Law.” Journal of Social Psychology 142 (5): 617–34.
LeVine, R. A. and Campbell, D. T.. 1972. Ethnocentrism: Theories of confiict. ethnic attitudes, and group behavior. New York: Wiley.
Lubbers, Marcel, Gijsberts, Mérove and Scheepers, Peer. 2002. “Extreme Right-Wing Voting in Western Europe.” European Journal of Political Research 41 (3): 345–78.
Maddox, K.B. and Gray, S.A.. 2002. “Cognitive Representations of Black Americans: Re-exploring the Role of Skin Tone.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28 (2): 250–59.
McAndrew, Marie, Rossell, J., Pagé, M. and Jodoin, M.. 2000. “L'Aptitude au français des élèves montréalais d'origine immigrée.” Cahier Québécois de Démographie 29 (1): 89117.
McLaren, Lauren M. 2003. “Anti-Immigrant Prejudice in Europe: Contact, Threat Perception and Preferences for the Exclusion of Migrants.” Social Forces 81 (3): 909–36.
McLaren, Lauren and Johnson, Mark. 2007. “Resources, Group Conflict and Symbols: Explaining Anti-Immigration Hostility in Britain.” Political Studies 55: 709–32.
Meuleman, Bart, Davidov, Eldad and Billiet, Jaak. 2009. “Changing Attitudes toward Immigration in Europe, 2002–2007: A Dynamic Group Conflict Theory Approach.” Social Science Research 38 (2): 352–65.
O'Connell, Michael. 2011. “How Do High-Skilled Natives View High-Skilled Immigrants: Trade Theory Predictions.” European Journal of Political Economy 27 (2): 230–40.
Office of Immigration Statistics. 2011. 2010 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. Washington DC: Department of Homeland Security.
Oliver, J. Eric and Wong, Janelle. 2003. “Intergroup Prejudice in Multiethnic Settings.” American Journal of Political Science 47 (4): 567–82.
Oswald, Debra. 2006. “Understanding Anti-Arab Reactions Post-9/11: The Role of Threats, Social Categories, and Personal Ideologies.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 35 (9): 1775–99.
Palmer, Douglas L. 1996. “Determinants of Canadian Attitudes toward Immigration: More than Just Racism?Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 28 (3): 180.
Pettigrew, Thomas F. 1998. “Reactions toward the New Minorities of Western Europe.” Annual Review of Sociology 24: 77103.
Poynting, Scott and Mason, Victoria. 2007. “The Resistible Rise of Islamophobia.” Journal of Sociology 43 (1): 6186.
Quillian, Lincoln. 1995. “Prejudice as a Response to Perceived Group Threat: Population Composition and Anti-Immigrant and Racial Prejudice in Europe.” American Sociological Review 60 (4): 586611.
Rossi, Peter and Nock, Steven. 1982. Measuring Social Judgments: The Factorial Survey Approach. Newbury: Sage Publications.
Rustenbach, Elisa. 2010. “Sources of Negative Attitudes toward Immigrants in Europe: A Multi-Level Analysis.” International Migration Review 44 (1): 5377.
Salée, Daniel and Labelle, Michelene. 2001. “Immigrant and Minority Representations of Citizenships in Quebec.” In Citizenship Today: Global Perspectives and Practices, ed. Aleinikoff, T. Alexander and Klusmeyer, Douglas. Washington: Brookings Institution.
Schain, Martin. 2008. The Politics of Immigration in France, Britain and the United States: A Comparative Study. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Scheve, Kenneth and Slaughter, Matthey. 2001. “Labor-Market Competition and Individual Preferences over Immigration Policy.” Review of Economics and Statistics 83 (1): 133–45.
Schlueter, Elmar and Davidov, Eldad. Forthcoming. “Contextual Sources of Perceived Group Threat: Negative Immigration-related News Reports, Immigrant Group Size and their Interaction, Spain 1996–2007.” European Sociological Review.
Segovia, Francine and Defever, Renatta. 2010. “The polls—Trends: American Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration Policy.” Public Opinion Quarterly 74 (2): 375–94.
Seltzer, Richard and Smith, R.C.. 1991. “Color Differences in the Afro-American Community and the Differences They Make.” Journal of Black Studies 21 (3): 279–86.
Simon, Rita and Lynch, James. 1999. “A Comparative Assessment of Public Opinion toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies.” International Migration Review 33 (2): 455–67.
Sniderman, Paul and Hagendoorn, Louk. 2007. When Ways of Life Collide: Multiculturalism and Its Discontents in the Netherlands. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sniderman, Paul M., Peri, Pierangelo, Figueiredo, Rui J.P. and Piazza, Thomas. 2000. The Outsider: Prejudice and Politics in Italy. Princeton NJ.: Princeton University Press.
Statistics Canada. 2007. Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population, 2006 Census (Catalogue no. 97-557).
Statistics Canada. 2008. Education Portrait of Canada, 2006 Census. (Catalogue no. 97-560-X).
Tajfel, Henry and Turner, John C.. 1986. “The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior.” In Psychology of Intergroup Relations, ed. Austin, W. G. and Worchel, S.. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.
Terkildsen, Nadya. 1993. “When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of Candidate Skin Color, Prejudice, and Self-Monitoring.” American Journal of Political Science 37 (4): 1032–53.
US Census Bureau. 2009. Foreign-Born Population of the United States: Current Population Survey—March 2009. http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/foreign/cps2009.html (November 11, 2011).
US Census Bureau. 2011. “The Foreign Born from Latin America and the Caribbean: 2010.” American Community Survey Briefs, ACSBR/10-15. http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-15.pdf
Valentino, Nicholas, Brader, Ted and Jardina, Ashley. Forthcoming. “Antecedents of Immigration Opposition among US Whites: General Ethnocentrism or Media Priming of Latino Attitudes?Political Psychology.
Vavreck, Lynn and Iyengar, Shanto. 2011. “New developments in experimental methods.” In Sage Handbook of Political Communication, ed. Semetko, Holli A. and Scammell, Margaret. Beverly Hills CA: Sage.
Weaver, Vesla M. 2009. “The Electoral Consequences of Skin Color: The Hidden Side of Race in Politics.” Political Behavior 34 (1): 159–92.
Wilkes, Rima, Guppy, Neil and Farris, Lily. 2008. “No Thanks, We're Full: Individual Characteristics, National Context, and Changing Attitudes toward Immigration.” International Migration Review 42 (2): 203329.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The Impact of Economic and Cultural Cues on Support for Immigration in Canada and the United States

  • Allison Harell (a1), Stuart Soroka (a2), Shanto Iyengar (a3) and Nicholas Valentino (a4)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.