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Immigration and Support for Social Policy: An Experimental Comparison of Universal and Means-Tested Programs*


A growing body of research suggests that immigration undermines native support for the welfare state. However, the mechanisms behind this relationship and the possible moderating effects of institutions remain inconclusive. In this study, we identify via survey experiments how means-tested programs and targeted spending exacerbate the negative effect of immigration on public support for redistribution. Our findings suggest that different institutional settings can attach different weights to identity considerations across the whole socio-economic spectrum. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for previous contradictory findings in the literature, and for the effectiveness of welfare policies in times of increasing ethnic diversity.

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Jordi Muñoz, Ramón y Cajal Fellow, Department of Political Science and Institutions and Political Economy Research Group, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 684, 08034, Barcelona, Spain ( Sergi Pardos-Prado, Associate Professor and Official Fellow in Politics, Merton College, University of Oxford, OX1 4JD, Oxford, UK ( To view supplementary material for this article, please visit

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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
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