What Drives Individual Attitudes towards Immigration in South Africa?


  • We would like to thank seminar participants at the CEPR–PEGGED Conference in Turin, the EIIT 2011 conference at Purdue, Georgetown University and The World Bank for useful comments. J. M.Gallego and R. Puglisi provided excellent support throughout the project. The authors are most indebted to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) for generously funding the Grant: “Labor Markets, Job Creation, and Economic Growth: Migration and Labor Market Outcomes in Sending and Southern Receiving Countries,” which made this paper possible.


This paper empirically investigates the determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration in South Africa using the 1996, 2001 and 2007 rounds of the World Values Survey, looking at the role played by both economic and non-economic drivers. Our findings suggest that economic characteristics that work through the labor marketare not likely to explain the observed variation in individual preferences. We find instead some evidence for the role played by non-economic drivers, in particular by the ethnic background of the respondent and his/her religious affiliation. Our analysis thus highlights the importance of cultural factors for the design of migration policy in South Africa.