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Individual Attitudes Towards Skilled Migration: An Empirical Analysis Across Countries


  • We would like to thank Jens Hainmueller and Michael Hiscox and participants at the ‘Brain Drain and Brain Gain’ XI European Conference fRDB in Pisa and at the CEPR TOM Conference in Hamburg for many insightful comments. We especially thank the editor and an anonymous referee for suggestions that substantially improved the manuscript. This paper is produced as part of the CEPR project ‘Politics, Economics and Global Governance: The European Dimensions’ funded by the European Commission under its Seventh Framework Programme for Research (Collaborative Project), Contract no. 217559.


It is commonly argued that skilled immigration benefits the destination country through several channels. Yet, only a limited number of countries report having policies in place aimed at increasing the intake of skilled immigrants. Why? In this paper, we analyse the factors that affect a direct measure of individual attitudes towards skilled migration. We focus on two main channels: the labour market and the welfare state. We find that more educated natives are less likely to favour skilled immigration – consistent with the labour market channel – while richer people are more likely to do so – in accordance with the welfare state channel under the tax adjustment model. Our findings thus suggest that the labour market competition threat perceived by skilled natives in the host countries might be driving the observed cautious policies.