Money Talks: The Role of Income & Financial Security in Determining Immigration Attitudes
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Existing research on public attitudes toward immigration policy in the United States is divided. Lack of contact with immigrants and threat perception are two popular determinants that allegedly explain restrictionist attitudes; in contrast, individual financial standing is often overlooked. This paper challenges the claim that financial considerations play no role in the formation of public opinion toward immigration. Using 2020 Amazon Mechanical Turk survey data, an ordered logistical regression model reveals a robust link between financial security and immigration preferences, with those better off being more likely to favor greater restrictions. Although findings on income are less certain, they suggest that middle earners may be more preferential toward establishing greater restrictions than low or high earners. Surprisingly, proponents of immigration restrictions are found less likely to feel threatened by COVID-19 or election fraud. This contradicts threat theory and bolsters the argument that, in the context of competing influences on immigration attitudes, money talks.