I very recently blogged about attitudes to immigrants in Ireland, based on a quick look at the European Social Survey which has some very good questions on the subjects. The researchers responsible for those questions have a nice paper coming out modelling why people are opposed to immigration. Seemingly, within Europe (& based on 2002 data), Ireland is middle-of-the-road, in its opposition. It would be interesting to see how that has changed over time.
Immigration, wages & compositional amenities, D Card, C Dustman & I Preston (Journal of the EEA forthcoming)
There is strong public opposition to increased immigration throughout Europe. Given the modest economic impacts of immigration estimated in most studies, the depth of anti-immigrant sentiment is puzzling. Immigration, however, does not just affect wages and taxes. It also changes the composition of the local population, threatening the compositional amenities that natives derive from their neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. In this paper we use a simple latent-factor model, combined with data for 21 countries from the 2002 European Social Survey (ESS), to measure the relative importance of economic and compositional concerns in driving opinions about immigration policy. The ESS included a unique battery of questions on the labor market and social impacts of immigration, as well as on the desirability of increasing or reducing immigrant inflows. We find that compositional concerns are 2–5 times more important in explaining variation in individual attitudes toward immigration policy than concerns over wages and taxes. Likewise, most of the difference in opinion between more- and less-educated respondents is attributable to heightened compositional concerns among people with lower education. (JEL: F22, J01, I31)