Yes, it’s the racism and xenophobia!


ice new analysis from political scientist, Steven V. Miller (who I imagine is extra insistent on that middle initial these days) on the role of racial resentment in immigration attitudes.  Short version– yes, it’s the damn racial resentment, stop pretending otherwise!  Somewhat less short version, i.e., the paper’s abstract:

Does ‘economic anxiety’ explain attitudes toward immigration or can we better understand attitudes toward immigration as a function of ethnocentrism and racial resentment? This is a long-standing empirical debate in immigration opinion research and the election of Donald Trump, who consistently communicated anti-immigration hysteria on the campaign trail, has only intensified the salience of this debate. However, any focus on this debate by reference to the 2016 presidential election will struggle to distinguish the relative effects of ‘economic anxiety’ and racial resentment because the current political climate is one in which racial resentment may also influence attitudes about the economy. I help settle this debate with a battery of analyses on attitudes toward immigration across the American National Election Studies and Voter Study Group data, spanning analyses on immigration opinion for white Americans from 1992 to 2016. I further leverage the metadata these data provide by estimating the effects of unemployment and exposure to automation/outsourcing at levels as granular as the state, the county, the ZIP code, and the core-based statistical area. My analyses are unequivocal that racial resentment is reliably the largest and most precise predictor of attitudes toward immigration. [emphasis mine] Further analyses and simulations from a cherry-picked model most consistent with the ‘economic anxiety’ argument show that a standard deviation increase in racial resentment is still a greater magnitude effect than all ‘economic anxiety’ proxies combined and set to their conceivable max. I close with implications for immigration opinion research, given its increased salience after 2016.

Here’s his tweet with more info and link to the paper.

And the table here shows how racial resentment dwarfs all other factors– including, of course, economic anxiety.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to Yes, it’s the racism and xenophobia!

  1. Nicole K. says:

    Of course it is racial resentment, but I am sure most people holding these opinions would argue that they are not racists. So are there different understandings of what the term means? It seems very similar to some evangelicals I know who swear they aren’t transphobic or homophobic, they just think that being gay or trans is outside of God’s plan and so being gay or trans is either deviant behavior or a mental disorder, but they aren’t homophobic or transphobic, never.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Agree. Things are all black or all white with some people. No shades of gray. So much easier to decide things that way. Why make it hard with complexities which are really just excuses?

  3. homeys44 says:

    Love it. The issue that is killing the Left worldwide and their only response is to ban ICE and call everyone a racist. Oh, and create “studies” that tell them what a big winner immigration is for them.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Man, you are something else. For being an actuary, you’d think data might actually mean something to you. Ahhh, motivated reasoning. I have no idea if you are a racist, but based on existing empirical evidence, there is fairly high probability that you harbor a good deal of racial resentment.

      • homeys44 says:

        I’m not disagreeing that there is racism involved. Many people are racist is this world. Thats the reality. I’m just not big on debating serious issues by finding the worst motivations of the people that oppose me. I understand its entertaining, but it also fosters divisiveness and is flat anti-intellectual. I mean, where does calling people racist get us?

      • Nicole K. says:

        You know what is anti illectual? Dismissing legitimate research as a liberal plot. Personally, I think racism is disgusting and should be pointed out when it becomes identifiable.

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