“No Thanks, We’re Full”: Individual Characteristics, National Context, and Changing Attitudes Toward Immigration



In this paper we examine how individual-level characteristics and national context affect attitudes toward immigration. Although many previous studies have compared attitudes toward immigration across countries, little attention has been paid to how attitudes may be affected by changes within a country over time. We take advantage of seventeen national Canadian Gallup surveys to consider how differences in national economic conditions and changing immigration flows affect attitudes and changes in attitudes between 1975 and 2000. While the state of the national economy affects attitudes this is not the case for the rate of immigration. Rather than affecting some groups more than others the state of the economy has a relatively uniform effect across groups. Our results also show that far from being a continuum, being anti-immigration and being pro-immigration are qualitatively different. Interest, ideology, and the national economy affect anti-immigration sentiments, but only ideology affects pro-immigration sentiments.