Immigration: Research Frontiers & Policy Challenges Conference[1]

October 4~5, 2019

Perry World House

University of Pennsylvania




Day 1, October 4 (Friday), 2019



Arrival, Continental Breakfast



Opening remarks by Michael Horowitz & Nicholas Sambanis



Panel 1: Understanding Anti-Immigrant Bias

Chair: Jocelyn Perry


Paper Presentations & Discussion (25 minutes each)

·      Kristin Michelitch (Vanderbilt), Can Personal Narratives Counter Negative Attitudes toward Muslim Refugees and Citizens? Evidence from Kenya

·      Peter Thisted Dineson (Copenhagen), Working Together? Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace and Generalized Social Trust

·      Yusaku Horiuchi (Dartmouth), Opposition to Refugee Resettlement from a Comparative Perspective: Design and Preliminary Analysis

·      Nicholas Sambanis (Penn), Parochialism, Social Norms, and Discrimination Against Immigrants





Coffee Break




Panel 2: Immigrant-Host Society Relations

Chair: Mathias Poertner


Paper Presentations & Discussion (25 minutes each)

·      Rafaela Dancygier (Princeton), Hating and Mating: Fears over Mate Competition and Violent Hate Crime against Refugees.

·      Steven Liao (UC Riverside), Local Economic Benefits Increase Positivity Toward Foreigners

·      Bernd Berber (WZB), “Native Flight” in Urban School Districts: Data from Berlin, Germany





Lunch Break


Panel 3: Integration and Assimilation of Immigrants

Chair: Danny Choi


Paper Presentations & Discussion (25 minutes each)

·      Stephanie Zonszein (NYU), Citizen Rights and Integration: The Case of Unauthorized Immigrants to the United States

·      Amanda Robinson (OSU), Becoming Black: Immigrant Visibility, Racial Identity Formation, and Political Integration Among African Immigrants in the US

·      Soumyajit Mazumder (Harvard), Becoming White: How Military Service Turned Immigrants into Americans

·      Aram Hur (Missouri), How Refugees Define “Successful” Integration and Why It Matters




Coffee Break




Panel 4: Immigration, Local Integration, and Electoral Politics

Chair: David Barclay


Paper Presentations & Discussion (25 minutes each)

·      Victoria Shineman (Pitt), What Really Happens When Noncitizens Vote in American Elections?

·      Antonella Bandiera (NYU), The Returned: Repatriations, Elections, and Policy Polarization in El Salvador

·      Vasiliki Fouka (Stanford), Changing In-Group Boundaries: How Immigration Affects Race Relations in the US

·      Claire Charbit (OECD), “Working together for local integration of migrants and refugees”




Conference Dinner at Han Dynasty (3711 Market Street, Philadelphia)


Day 2, October 5 (Saturday), 2019



Continental Breakfast



Panel 5: International Influences

Chair: Amb. William Swing


Paper Presentations & Discussion (25 minutes each)

·      Nikhar Gaikwad (Columbia), Economic Opportunities Abroad and Political Behavior at Home: Evidence from a Field Experiment on India-Gulf Migration

·      Eugen Dimant (Penn), A ‘Good Deal’? U.S. Military Aid and Refugee Flows to the United States

·      Chris Blair (Penn), Attitudes Toward Migration, Climate Change, and Climate Migration: Evidence from Several Survey Experiments

·      Merih Angin (Koc¸ University), Into the Woods: Migration and the Bretton Woods Institutions




Coffee Break




Panel 6: Reflections and Implications for Policy-making

·      Claire Charbit (OECD)

·      David Barclay (Good Faith Partnership)

·      Amb. William Swing (Perry World House)

·      Danny Choi (Pitt)

·      Mathias Poertner (Texas A&M)




Wrap-up and farewell by Nicholas Sambanis







Panel 1: Understanding Anti-Immigrant Bias



Can Personal Narratives Counter Negative Attitudes toward Muslim Refugees and Citizens? Evidence from Kenya


Jeremy Horowitz and Kristin Michelitch


Perceptions of security threats from jihadist terrorism are thought to exacerbate discrimination towards Muslim refugees and immigrants in Christian-majority countries. Can Muslims’ personal narratives mitigate negative attitudes? This study examines the effect of two (real) personal narratives from a Somali refugee-cum-citizen on attitudes towards Somalis in Kenya: (a) refugee displacement (fleeing Somalia’s civil conflict and gratitude for refuge), and (b) anti-terror sentiments (condemning al-Shabaab, a jihadist organization based in Somalia responsible for multiple terror attacks in Kenya). We find that both personal narratives positively affect a wide range of attitudes regarding Somalis, as well as refugee/immigration policy preferences. We further find support for the cultural threat theory — those perceiving Somali as more dissimilar are more negative towards Somalis, and are more impacted by the personal narratives.




Working Together? Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace and Generalized Social Trust


Peter Thisted Dinesen, Kim Mannemar Sønderskov; Frederik Thuesen


Several influential studies show that living in more ethnically diverse settings tend to erode generalized social trust —a core indicator of social cohesion—among the native-born population, prompting concerns over the consequences of immigration in Western societies . Yet, critics argue that this is a biased portrayal of the consequences of ethnic diversity for trust because co-habitation only entails superficial, stereotype-confirming exposure to other ethnic groups rather than meaningful contact with them. Conversely, interethnic contact can in fact build up, rather than erode, generalized social trust, according to this perspective. However, putting the “contact argument” to a convincing empirical test has been complicated by several methodological challenges. In this paper, we provide a rigorous test of this argument by studying a contact-prone context—the workplace—using registry-linked survey data from Denmark. Despite setting the scene for the contact argument, our empirical analyses consistently show a negative effect of ethnic diversity in the workplace on social trust. This result holds in a series of analyses, including in panel data models. Our results thus provide little support for the contact argument, but instead vindicate and even bolster theories highlighting negative consequences of ethnic diversity for trust.




Opposition to Refugee Resettlement: Comparative Perspectives


Yusaki Horiuchi, Jeremy Ferwerda, and Katherine Clayton


Although the refugee crisis is an immediate problem that necessitates international coordination, many developed countries are reluctant to accept refugees for resettlement. Restrictive government policies may partly be attributed to anti-refugee sentiment among the public. In this study, we will systematically examine the origins of people’s opposition to refugee resettlement in ten OECD countries accepting the large number of refugees (USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Australia, France, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand). We will collect about 1,100 responses per country. In the experiment, respondents will be asked about their support for refugee resettlement in (i) other developed countries, (ii) their country, and (iii) their local community. The difference in support for refugee resettlement in each of these areas measures people’s NIMBY (Not-in-my-backyard) attitudes toward refugees (Ferwerda, Flynn, and Horiuchi 2017). In other words, a large difference in support for refugee resettlement in an individual’s community and country, or in his or her own country and other developed countries, would indicate a high degree of NIMBY-ism. Before the measurement of these three outcome variables, respondents in each country will be randomly divided into four groups. The first group of respondents will read a brief article excerpt about the socio-economic merits of accepting refugees (Ferwerda, Flynn, and Horiuchi 2017; Horiuchi and Ono 2019). The second group will read a short excerpt about the potential security risks of accepting refugees. Following research that suggests that priming empathy may reduce bias towards outgroups (Paluck 2016; Adida, Lo, and Platas 2017), the third group will read a short article stressing the humanitarian needs of refugees. The fourth group will receive no information. Using this random treatment assignment, we will estimate the average treatment effects of each media frame on support for refugee resettlement locally, nationally, and in other countries. In addition, we will also examine the treatment effect heterogeneity conditional on other key attributes included in the survey instruments. For example, we will test whether support for refugee resettlement in respondents’ communities or countries, or in other countries, varies based on whether they have frequent contact with immigrants and/or refugees, and on the extent to which they are beneficiaries of goods and services provided by their local governments. The online survey experiment will be designed with Qualtrics. To collect panels of respondents, we will use Qualtrics Panels (and have already signed a contract and completed the payment). The survey questionnaire (translated into various languages) will include basic demographics, which are used for quotas in the process of collecting responses and, after the data collection, to estimate sampling weights based on entropy balancing (Hainmueller 2012). We also administer block randomization to improve efficiency in estimation.




Parochialism, Social Norms, and Discrimination Against Immigrants


Donghyun Danny Choi, Mathias Poertner, and Nicholas Sambanis


As immigration increases due to globalization, wars, and climate change, there is more interaction between native and immigrant populations and more potential for conflict. Policymakers have emphasized the need to better integrate immigrants to forge a common set of norms concerning appropriate behavior. However, there is a lack of evidence to support the hypothesis that a shared understanding of norms can reduce discrimination. We provide experimental evidence that religious differences cause bias and discrimination in everyday interactions between natives and immigrants. Cultural integration signaled through immigrants’ enforcement of local norms reduces, but does not eliminate, bias.  As long as public debates and policies heighten the importance of religious differences, cultural integration will not be able to eliminate inter-group conflict.







Panel 2: Immigrant – Host Society Relations



Hating and Mating: Fears over Mate Competition and Violent Hate Crime against Refugees


Rafaela Dancygier, Naoki Egami, Amaney Jamal and Ramona Rischke


As the number of refugees rises across the world, anti-refugee violence has become a pressing concern. What explains the incidence and support of such hate crime? We argue that fears among native men that refugees pose a threat in the competition for female partners is a critical but understudied factor driving hate crime. Employing a comprehensive dataset on the incidence of hate crime across Germany, we first demonstrate that hate crime rises where men face disadvantages in local mating markets. Next, we deploy an original four-wave panel survey to confirm that support for hate crime increases when men fear that the inflow of refugees makes it more difficult to find female partners. Mate competition concerns remain a robust predictor even when controlling for anti-refugee views, perceived job competition, general frustration, and aggressiveness. We conclude that a more complete understanding of hate crime must incorporate mating markets and mate competition.



Local Economic Benefits Increase Positivity Toward Foreigners

Steven Liao, Neil Malhotra, and Benjamin J. Newman


The scholarly literature is replete with studies examining the effect of increases in the number of immigrants on political attitudes. However, an understudied question is how foreign capital—not people—influences attitudes toward outsiders. This topic is of particular importance given the increased mobility of capital in a globalized economy. We examine this question using the case of Chinese internationals in the U.S. and an exogenous influx of Foreign Real Estate Investment (FREI) associated with their presence. Using a difference-in-differences design with panel data, along with analyses of pooled cross-sectional data, we find that immigration attitudes, as well as views toward China, became more positive over-time among Americans residing in locales whose economies were stimulated by Chinese foreign investments. Consistent with previous research on immigration attitudes, these effects seem to be driven by sociotropic concerns as opposed to naked self-interest—there is no observable difference in how homeowners and non- homeowners responded to Chinese investments, even though homeowners experienced the most capital appreciation. Further, these effects appear to be driven by communotropic concerns: Chinese FREI exposure increased the strength of the local economy in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. Overall, our findings build upon—and contrast with—the bulk of literature showing that exposure to low-skilled immigrants often makes people more xenophobic.



“Native Flight” in Urban School Districts: Data from Berlin, Germany


Bernd Berber




Panel 3: Integration and Assimilation of Immigrants



Citizen Rights and Integration: The Case of Unauthorized Immigrants to the United States


Stephanie Zonszein



Do policies granting legal status to minority immigrants change their incentives to acculturate? Previous studies suggest that the process of acquiring citizen rights—learning the host country’s language, history and civic norms—strengthens immigrants’ identification with the host society, leading to assimilation. However, this literature does not consider that in their decision of whether to assimilate, minority immigrants face a trade-off: behaviors that promote integration with the host society are behaviors that induce a disconnection with their cultural identity. I propose a simple theoretical decision model that microfounds immigrants’ trade-off in their decision to assimilate and identify the effect of legalizing unauthorized immigrants on this decision. I focus on the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which is among the most extensive policies directed toward unauthorized immigrants in recent decades in the United States and assess the effect of the program on the acculturation patterns of Mexicans who represent roughly 80% of the DACA population. Employing birth data from Florida and the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample, I use ethnic content of first names given to children as an indicator of cultural maintenance, and ability to speak English and employment status as indicators of participation with the larger society, and exploit with a regression discontinuity design the quasi-random assignment of DACA eligibility among mothers with birthdates close to the DACA age qualification cutoff. The estimated results indicate that those who gain legal status increase their investment in cultural maintenance (by naming practices) and also increase their connections to the host society (by learning English, participating in the labor market, and even possibly joining the military). This suggests that integration, as defined by the multicultural framework, is an acculturation strategy available to minority immigrants in the United States.




Becoming Black: Immigrant Visibility, Racial Identity Formation, and Political Integration Among African Immigrants in the US


Amanda Robinson and Claire Adida


Integration into American society by non-black immigrants tends to increase with time and result in improved economic outcomes. In contrast, scholars note a form of “black exceptionalism”: black immigrants integrate at the slowest rates among all immigrants and their socioeconomic status and residential integration decline with each generation. This is because the segment of the host population into which they would most likely assimilate – black Americans – is itself a marginalized minority. As a result, previous research finds that, in contrast to other immigrant groups, resistance to assimilation among black immigrants often yields better outcomes. Such resistance is a strategic response to racial discrimination in the US, and the risk that such discrimination poses to black immigrants who are perceived to be black American. Yet black immigrants in the United States are a diverse group, and not all are equally “mistaken” for black Americans. While some black immigrants’ recent foreign heritage is highly visible, other black immigrants’ differences from black Americans are “invisible.” This variation, and its implications for black immigrant integration in the US, has not yet been theoretically developed or empirically tested. We offer a systematic study of African immigrant integration, with a particular focus on racial identity formation and its political implications. Our theoretical framework predicts that immigrant visibility facilitates black identity formation by reducing the disincentives for assimilation that stem from racial commonality with black Americans, and that racial identity formation will in turn affect political attitudes and engagement. We evaluate these expectations through in-depth interviews with African immigrants paired with a lab experimental measure of immigrant visibility, as well as a large scale survey among the Somali communities of Columbus, OH. Preliminary results suggest that immigrant visibility does indeed shape racial identification, and racial identification is related to both race-related political attitudes and engagement with American politics. However, contrary to our expectations, immigrant visibility is associated with weaker racial identification, which seems to be due to both strategic investment in visibility and less exposure to race-based discrimination. This research improves our understanding of racial identity formation among black immigrants, and highlights potential changes in the nature of racial politics amid an increasingly diverse US racial landscape.




Becoming White: How Military Service Turned Immigrants into Americans



Soumyajit Mazumder



When do groups on the social periphery assimilate into the social core of a nation? Building on a diverse set of literatures, I argue that individual participation in military service creates a number of conditions that drive individuals to assimilate into a broader national culture. To test the theory, I focus on the case of World War I in the United States–a period that closely followed a massive wave of immigration into the United States. Using an instrumental variables strategy leveraging the exogenous timing of the war, I show that individuals of foreign, European nativity–especially, the Italians and Eastern Europeans–were more likely to assimilate into American society after serving in the U.S. military. The theory and results contribute to our understanding of the ways in which states make identity and the prospects for immigrant assimilation in an age without mass warfare.




How Refugees Define “Successful” Integration and Why It Matters



Aram Hur


How do refugees themselves define “successful” integration into a host society? Much of the debate on ideal approaches to refugee or immigrant integration has been from the perspective of normative theory or the state. In contrast, there has been little empirical focus on the standards that refugees hold for themselves. Such gap has real policy costs, since misalignment between the standards held by the host state versus the newcomers can lead to backlash against well-meaning integration efforts. I take an inductive approach to identify the typology of integration standards that refugees hold, focusing on the case of North Korean refugees in South Korea. The identity politics of the Korean peninsula yields a case where the host state takes an explicitly co-ethnic approach toward the refugees, such that it is possible to trace how North Koreans’ understandings of integration align or deviate from this state position and to what effect. Using a rare political survey and personal narrative interviews with this refugee population, this article makes three contributions: it 1) maps out the typologies of successful integration as seen through the eyes of refugees; 2) traces what pre-integration experiences explain variation in those typologies even within a co-ethnic refugee group; and 3) provides an initial assessment of how refugee standards affect their actual integration, especially when they diverge from the approach of the host state.





Panel 4: Immigration, Local Integration, and Electoral Politics



What Really Happens When Noncitizens Vote in American Elections?


Victoria Shineman, Stephanie Zonszein, Eline de Rooij, Mark Pickup


This project studies how the extension of voting rights to noncitizen residents affects the political attitudes and identities of noncitizen residents, as well as the way noncitizen populations are viewed by citizens. This paper presents the design and results of a pilot study intended to estimate the effects of mobilizing eligible noncitizen residents to vote in a local election in San Francisco, along with proposed designs for two follow-up studies. Many might consider citizenship to be a natural criterion for voter eligibility, but this standard varies significantly across the world. More than 45 countries grant noncitizen residents the right to vote in local, regional, or national elections. In the United States, federal law bans noncitizen voting in federal elections, but states remain free to determine who can vote in state and local elections. Eleven states currently allow individual municipalities to extend voting rights to noncitizen residents in local elections, and several have done so. Most recently, following a twelve-year campaign, San Francisco voted to grant noncitizen parents the right to vote in the San Francisco Board of Education elections in November 2018, 2020, and 2022.

Theory: If a noncitizen resident is granted the right to vote in local elections, this might increase the perceived inclusiveness and representativeness of the local community – affecting trust, identity, attachment to one’s country and culture of origin, and attitudes toward cultural and lingual assimilation. Citizen residents might also view noncitizen neighbors differently if noncitizens are allowed to vote.

Methods: We conducted a pilot study during the November 2018 San Francisco Board of Education Election. The experiment recruited noncitizen parents to complete a panel survey before and after the election. After the first survey, participants were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The mobilization treatment was intended to increase information about the new noncitizen voting rights, and to provide assistance and encouragement to register and vote in the upcoming election.

Results: The results of the pilot study are limited, due to issues with recruitment. Noncitizens were hesitant (and even fearful) to participate in the survey (and also to register and vote). The city of San Francisco experienced similar reactions – although one third of SF students have an immigrant parent, only 65 noncitizens registered to vote. The paper discusses the implications of recruitment issues in the modern political climate, and how these challenges might vary across other cities and countries. Finally, the paper proposes revisions in location and design that can better address these concerns, including two follow-up studies (one in Maryland, and one in the EU).

Implications: The notion of citizenship and its relationship to voting rights is a long-standing debate. The results from the empirical studies will contribute to our understanding of citizenship, identity, immigration, politics, participation, representation, and theories of culture and assimilation. This project would be an excellent fit into the conference theme, and the project as a whole would benefit greatly from the input of other participants working in the area.




Changing In-Group Boundaries: How Immigration Affects Race Relations in the US


Vasiliki Fouka, Soumyajit Mazumder, and Marco Tabellini


How are boundaries of in-groups and out-groups in a society formed, and how do they evolve? Does the appearance of a new out-group foster or hinder the incorporation of previously excluded groups? We address these issues in the context of immigration to the US between 1965 and 2010, and study how new immigrants from Mexico and China affected native-born whites’ attitudes towards African Americans and the social integration of the latter. Using an instrumental variables strategy that leverages exogenous variation in the arrival of immigrants to different states and commuting zones combined with survey and census data, we find that an increase in the fraction of immigrants reduces whites’ prejudice toward African Americans in addition to raising black-white intermarriage rates. These effects are driven by Mexican, but not Chinese immigration, consistent with a mechanism in which the arrival of a more socially distant group narrows the perceived distance between the majority and existing minorities. We provide additional evidence that the salience of immigration can lead native whites to categorize out-group members more on the basis of nativity and less on the basis of race. Our findings can be explained by a canonical model of classification that builds on self-categorization theory. Overall, our study provides insights into the evolution of group boundaries and group hierarchies in multi-ethnic societies.



The Returned: Repatriations, Elections, and Policy Polarization in El Salvador


Antonella Bandiera, Micaela Sviatschi, and Carlos Schmidt-Padilla


Using novel micro-data on the timing and return address of repatriated individuals to El Salvador from 1995 to the present, we look at their impact on electoral returns and policy preferences. Although recent work has looked at the drivers of migration and their impact on the receiving country, not enough attention has been paid to the impact of failed migration and forceful removal from receiving countries. Repatriations represent a shock to the local populations, as they usually are unannounced. Likewise, depending on the intensity of the repatriation waves, political actors might need to adapt to new electorates (the repatriated as new voters) or concerns from their current constituents (the repatriated as threats to the current electorate). In this project, we combine individual accounts of repatriation from the Salvadoran migration authorities with precinct-level electoral data and survey responses to measure the impact of repatriations on policy preferences and electoral outcomes. We exploit the timing of the repatriations, surveys, and elections as an identification mechanism.



Working together for local integration of migrants and refugees


Claire Charbit


Behind every migration statistic, there are individuals or families starting a new life in a new place. Local authorities, in co-ordination with all levels of government and other local partners, play a key role in integrating these newcomers and empowering them to contribute to their new communities. Integration needs to happen where people are: in their workplaces, their neighbourhoods, the schools to which they send their children and the public spaces where they will spend their free time. This work describes what it takes to formulate a place-based approach to integration through concerted efforts across levels of government as well as between state and non-state actors. It draws on both quantitative evidence from a statistical database and qualitative evidence from a survey of 72 cities. These include nine large European cities (Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Paris, Rome and Vienna) and one small city in Germany (Altena), which are subject to in depth case studies. A 12-point checklist is proposed as a tool that any city or region –in Europe, the OECD or beyond – can use to work across levels of government and with other local actors in their efforts to promote more effective integration of migrants.




Panel 5: International Influences


Economic Opportunities Abroad and Political Behavior at Home: Evidence from a Field Experiment on India-Gulf Migration


Nikhar Gaikwad, Kolby Hanson, and Aliz Toth


One of the most important effects of international migration, and globalization in general, has been to provide new economic opportunities for people in developing countries. What might international job opportunities provide for these groups that domestic opportunities do not, and how might new international opportunities shape their domestic political beliefs and behavior? Opportunities for international employment can expand the economic and political autonomy of individuals who might otherwise have few options for advancement. These opportunities are particularly empowering for members of traditionally marginalized groups, who face greater barriers to advancement domestically. Improved economic prospects in turn should empower individuals to become more involved in political life while growing less dependent on government redistribution. Therefore, even before moving abroad, prospective migrants should participate more in politics and become less supportive of high taxes and social spending. As part of a larger field experiment on labor migration from the Northeast Indian state of Mizoram, we test how prospective opportunities for economic gain affect political participation and economic policy preferences. Partnering with local NGOs and an international labor recruitment firm, we randomly selected Scheduled Tribe (ST) young adults for a job skills training and placement program for high-paying jobs in the Gulf Region’s hospitality industry. We administer a survey on economic and political views after these young adults had been selected and received the job training, but before they began interviewing for jobs and moving abroad. We compare the responses of those who were randomly selected for the program to those who were not selected, allowing us to test the effect of prospective economic opportunities on political and economic views. Our results show strong evidence that the prospect of economic advancement empowers individuals economically and politically. Participants in the program became much more confident in their economic prospects, even before receiving any specific opportunities. Not only did these individuals believe that international opportunities would be better paying (which they are), they also felt they would face less discrimination and more opportunities for upward mobility abroad than in other parts of India (for which there is substantial evidence as well). This economic autonomy made program participants substantially less likely to support redistributive economic policies and much more likely to believe that the poor can work themselves out of poverty. At the same time, program participants became more empowered to participate in politics. During the 2018 Mizoram elections cycle, treatment individuals were more substantially more likely to cast a ballot, more likely to attend campaign events, and more likely to volunteer for political campaigns. These findings suggest that economic empowerment stemming from international employment can have substantial political economy impacts in sending countries, especially among traditionally marginalized communities.




Attitudes Toward Migration, Climate Change, and Climate Migration: Evidence from Several Survey Experiments


Christopher Blair and Sabrina Arias


Since August 2018, more than 1 million people in India’s Kerala state have been displaced by flooding, upending local economies and inducing resource competition between the new climate migrants and locals-turned-hosts in nearby states. In August 2005, an equivalent number of people were displaced from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, with nearly half never returning to their homes. Indeed, flight after Kerala and Katrina is emblematic of a broader global phenomenon—climate-induced migration. The magnitude of the threat is striking, with more than 143 million climate migrants expected worldwide by 2050. While recent debates over the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the U.S. “travel ban” have galvanized attention on forced migrants in the West, researchers and policymakers have largely failed to consider climate-induced migration. In particular, little academic work has examined public perceptions of the causes and consequences of climate migration. Our project seeks to redress this gap in the literature linking climate change and migration by investigating: (1) the extent to which exposure to migration affects support for actions to address the threat of climate change; (2) whether publics are more likely to perceive climate migration as a threat when previous waves of migration are highly salient; and (3) whether individuals are likely to perceive climate migrants differently from other types of migrants. We develop a theory of migration exposure and climate attitudes linking personal experiences, perspective taking, and social identity. We hypothesize that increased exposure to climate migrants will increase the perceived threat of climate change, and particularly of climate-induced migration, and that similar effects are induced when migration and climate change are highly salient topics. We also expect that exposure to climate migrants who are members of ethnic, religious, or national out-groups will induce sociotropic backlash, further increasing respondents’ perceptions of the threat of climate change and migration. Finally, we anticipate that several effects related to individuals’ personal experiences moderate the direction and magnitude of our hypothesized effects. Specifically, we predict that residence in areas of high vulnerability to extreme climate events, high exposure to migration, and past exposure to real climate disasters will magnify the perceived threats of climate change and climate migration. Secondarily, we theorize that political attitudes such as trust in government, political interest, and international foreign policy orientation will increase support for policy solutions targeting anthropogenic climate change and climate migration. We test this theory with two survey experiments fielded in the U.S., India, and Germany. In the first experiment, subjects are primed to increase the salience of climate change, migration, or climate-driven migration at the local or global level. In the second experiment, a conjoint design allows us to test the relative importance of climate migration in respondents’ evaluations of migrant profiles. For both experiments, we are able to conduct subgroup analyses to understand the moderating effects of exposure to climate change and migration on attitudes. These tests represent the first causal evidence about public attitudes toward climate migrants, and provide critical information for both academic research and policy on climate-driven migration.



A ‘Good Deal’? U.S. Military Aid and Refugee Flows to the United States


Eugen Dimant, Tim Krieger, Daniel Meierrieks, and Laura Renner


The present paper focusses on U.S. military aid and refugee flows from 187 countries to the U.S. from 1989 to 2017. It addresses the question whether military aid is “a good deal” for the U.S. when it comes to avoiding unwanted refugees coming to the country. That is, we ask whether aid has a stabilizing, emigration-reducing effect on the origin countries of potential refugees. Our results show that this is not the case; rather, there are more refugees coming from countries that receive more U.S. military aid. Addressing the obvious endogeneity in the aid-migration relationship, these results hold after conducting several robustness checks. We show further that the negative total effect runs through a negative effect of U.S. military aid on human rights and other institutional variables. The deterioration of the human rights situation results in a living environment that is sufficiently unfavorable to make people want to leave and that even forces some of them to flee their home countries, resulting in more refugees coming to the U.S. Hence, if U.S. military aid aims at reducing refugee flows, it is – according to our findings – not successful in doing so.



International Organizations in the Age of Migration


Merih Angin, Albana Shehaj, and Adrian J. Shin


Why do international organizations favor some countries over others? Many existing studies emphasize major shareholders’ strategic and special interests in explaining the behavior of an international organization. Focusing on the Bretton Woods institutions and the EU, we present a systemic theory of international institutions: Western policymakers envisioned international organizations complementing one another in promoting and sustaining economic globalization by discarding migration as an element of the post-Bretton Woods economic order. We argue that the aftermath of 1970s oil crisis prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to curb “Third-World” migration by channeling their financial resources into major migrant-sending states. Focusing on years leading up to the European migrant crisis (2009–2015), we further argue that the EU has utilized the European Structural and Investment Funds to offer financial incentives to its migrant-transit member states in exchange for holding non-EU migrants in the European periphery. Since migration is the most visible aspect of economic globalization, reducing migration inflows would attenuate globalization backlashes by assuaging voter opposition to other aspects of globalization in the developed world. Using in-depth case studies and datasets on loan, conditionality, and fiscal transfers, our analyses of the IMF, the World Bank, and the EU programs demonstrate that these institutions use their immense financial resources to reduce migration inflows—caused by financial crises, poverty, and civil unrest—into wealthy developed democracies. We demonstrate the important role of international migration in shaping some of the most critical decisions made by the world’s most powerful international organizations.


[1] This conference is hosted by the Penn Identity & Conflict Lab and was made possible with financial support from Perry World House.