Persuasion by design: how demonstrably beneficial policies make immigration popular

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from: 14:30
to: 15:30

Join our seminar that will explore the alternative possibility of long-term persuasion by policy design for demonstrably beneficial immigration.

Research shows that voters accept more open immigration policies when they believe these policies are beneficial to their country. At the same time, voters tend to underestimate the positive effects of immigration. Although various attempts to improve immigration attitudes by correcting these misperceptions have generally not been successful, this seminar explores the alternative possibility of long-term persuasion by policy design in line with voters’ conditional preference for demonstrably beneficial immigration.

Using a new dataset linking the best available public opinion and policy data across OECD countries, the presenter shows that voter perceptions of immigration’s benefits are systematically related to the objective reality, including the past skill selectivity of immigration policies and the shares of high-skilled immigrants. He then highlights that selective pro-immigration policy changes are associated with greater public support for open immigration in general (including humanitarian immigration).

Finally, the presenter illustrates this dynamic qualitatively by comparing the historical evolution of immigration policy, politics, and public opinion in Canada and Sweden. The evidence suggests that, while providing accurate information or reducing prejudice in the electorate is essential, only demonstrably beneficial pro-immigration reforms can secure and sustain public support for consistently high immigration rates.

Speaker: Alexander Kustov (University of North Carolina).

Chair: Lenka Drazanova (Migration Policy Centre, EUI).