The Stability of Immigration Attitudes: Evidence and Implications

Forthcoming in Journal of Politics

60 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2019 Last revised: 25 Sep 2020

See all articles by Alexander Kustov

Alexander Kustov

Yale University

Dillon Laaker

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Cassidy Reller

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: May 1, 2019


Do voters have stable immigration views? While any account of immigration politics must make an assumption about whether underlying attitudes are stable, the literature has been ambiguous regarding the issue. To remedy this omission, we provide the first comprehensive assessment of the stability and change of immigration attitudes. Theoretically, we develop a framework to explicate the temporal assumptions in previous research and find that most studies assume attitudes are flexible. Empirically, we draw on seven panel datasets to test the stability question and use multiple approaches to account for measurement error. We find that immigration attitudes are remarkably stable over time and robust to major economic and political shocks. Overall, these findings provide more support for theories emphasizing socialization and stable predispositions rather than information or environmental factors. Consequently, scholars should exercise caution in using changing context to explain immigration attitudes or in using immigration attitudes to explain political change.

Keywords: Immigration Attitudes, Panel Data, Attitude Stability, Cross-National, Public Opinion

JEL Classification: F22, D72, F50, C83

Suggested Citation

Kustov, Alexander and Laaker, Dillon and Reller, Cassidy, The Stability of Immigration Attitudes: Evidence and Implications (May 1, 2019). Forthcoming in Journal of Politics, Available at SSRN: or

Alexander Kustov

Yale University ( email )

Dillon Laaker (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Cassidy Reller

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics