Does Immigration Undermine Public Support for the Welfare State?
In recent years, several literatures have proposed strong reasons to expect immigration to undermine public support for the welfare state. This lecture analyzes six welfare state attitudes, three measures of immigration, and data on 17 affluent democracies with the 1996 and 2006 International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Altogether, the results provide little evidence in favor of the hypothesis that immigration undermines public support for the welfare state. There is some evidence that the percentage of foreign born has significant negative effects, especially when controlling for net migration or the change in the percentage of foreign born, and regarding the view that government “should provide jobs for everyone who wants one”. However, there is much more robust evidence that net migration and change in the percentage of foreign born have surprisingly positive effects on welfare attitudes. In sum, we conclude that immigration mostly has null or positive effects on public support for the welfare state.
David Brady is professor at the department of Sociology at the Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.