Personal Economic Shocks and Public Opposition to Unauthorized Immigration

Daniel J. Hopkins*, Yotam Margalit, Omer Solodoch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Do negative economic shocks heighten public opposition to immigration, and through what mechanisms? Extant research suggests that economic circumstances and levels of labour market competition have little bearing on citizens' immigration attitudes. Yet personal economic shocks have the potential to trigger the threatened, anti-immigration responses - possibly through channels other than labour market competition - that prior cross-sectional research has been unable to detect. To examine these propositions, we used a unique panel study which tracked a large, population-based sample of Americans between 2007 and 2020. We found that adverse economic shocks, especially job losses, spurred opposition to unauthorized immigration. However, such effects are not concentrated among those most likely to face labour market competition from unauthorized immigrants. Instead, they are concentrated among white male Americans. This evidence suggests that the respondents' anti-immigration turn does not stem from economic concerns alone. Instead, personal experiences with the economy are refracted through salient socio-political lenses.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • immigration
  • panel data
  • public opinion
  • unemployment


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