Labour-market competition and socio-political attitudes

(with Oliver Strijbis). 2018. ""Immigrants against immigration: Competition, identity and immigrants’ vote on free movement in Switzerland". Electoral Studies, 56:150–157.

2016. "Labour-Market Competition, Recession and Anti-Immigrant Sentiments in Europe: Occupational and Environmental Drivers of Competitive Threat”. Socio-Economic Review, 14(3): 395-417. 

I investigate the impact of both occupational and environmental sources of economic competition on attitudes towards immigration in Europe. I test for three dimensions of the occupation affecting exposure to competition: (i) skill specialization; (ii) monitoring costs; and (iii) the mix of manual versus communicational skills. Environmental correlates are tested by estimating the net change in anti-immigrant sentiments experienced during the first dip of the Great Recession, and by connecting this change to (i) country differences in the intensity of GDP contraction and (ii) prior growth in foreign-born shares. Applying two-step multi-level regression to a pool of the 2004 and the 2010 rounds of the European Social Survey, I find evidence consistent with both occupational and environmental sources of competitive threat.

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         Lead article

2013.“Economic Crisis, Political Legitimacy and Social Cohesion” in Duncan Gallie (ed.) Economic Crisis, Quality of Work and Social Integration: The European Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 256-278.  

This chapter investigates the impact of economic vulnerability and economic crisis on political trust, satisfaction with democracy and attitudes towards redistribution in Europe. The chapter reports three main findings: First, across Europe individuals’ experiences of economic vulnerability and financial strain were associated with lower levels of political trust and democratic satisfaction and with higher levels of support for income redistribution. Secondly, in many countries (but not all), the economic crisis also had negative effects on political trust and democratic satisfaction (but not on attitudes towards redistribution) amongst citizens who did not experience economic hardship directly. Third, these latter indirect effects were particularly strong in Euro zone countries.




 (with Francesc Ortega). 2012.“Labour-Market Exposure as a Determinant of Attitudes toward Immigration”. Labour Economics, 19:  298-311.

This paper re-examines the role of labor-market competition as a determinant of attitudes toward immigration. We claim two main contributions. First, we use more sophisticated measures of the degree of exposure to competition from immigrants than previously done. We focus on the protection derived from investments in job-specific human capital and from specialization in occupations that are ntensive in communication tasks. Second, we explicitly account for the potential endogeneity arising from job search. We obtain the following main results. First, natives that dislike immigrants tend to work in low-immigration jobs, biasing OLS estimates. Second, working in jobs that require high levels of specific human capital leads to relatively more pro-immigration attitudes. Third, the degree of communicational intensity of workers' occupations has a positive effect on their pro-immigration views. 




Standard explanations of anti-immigrant sentiments as well as explanations of the voting behavior of ethnic minorities would both predict voters with an immigrant background should be less inclined to support anti-immigration policies than comparable natives. We show this was not the case in the Swiss referendum “against mass immigration” held in 2014. In this referendum voters with an immigrant background showed surprisingly high levels of support to the initiative to restrict immigration, which were comparable to those expressed by natives. To explain this puzzling finding, we propose to look at two alternative (but not mutually exclusive) drivers of policy preferences previously overlooked in the voting literature: ethnic boundary making and labor market competition. We show that accounting for Secondo identity (a boundary-making identity specific to the Swiss ethnic hierarchy) and exposure to occupational and geographical labour market competition can explain the puzzle of immigrants’ support for immigration restrictions.


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