the shift in immigrants' countries of origin, although there is little hard evidence on this subject.

Although the majority of Americans now favor decreases in immigration, the strength of this sentiment varies substantially across groups. One might suppose that those who are most likely to face job market competition from immigrants (for example, those with job skills that are common among immigrants) would be most likely to want decreased immigration. This hypothesis, however, does not always fit very well with the observed differences across groups. For instance, residents of states with a high proportion of immigrants in the population do not differ systematically in their attitudes toward immigration from residents of other states (see Table 8.7). Neither did our multivariate analysis find any systematic relationship between attitudes and the fraction of a state's population that was foreign-born. Furthermore, there was no significant relationship between region of the country and attitudes toward immigration, despite the regional concentration of immigrants.

Given the large numbers of recent immigrants with less than a high school education, Americans with low levels of education appear to face the most job market competition from immigrants, and so might be expected to be most opposed to further immigration. Education does, in fact, have an important relationship with attitudes, but not the expected one. At the national level, those with less than a high school education do not stand out as having very different attitudes toward immigration (see Table 8.8). The group that does stand out is Americans

TABLE 8.7 American Attitudes Toward the Current Level of Immigration, 1995 Gallup Polls (percentage of respondents)

 

Level of Immigration Preferred

State

Decrease

Present Level

Increase

States with large numbers of immigrants, combined

64.8

26.3

8.9

California

63.6

24.7

11.8

New York/New Jersey

60.3

32.8

7.0

Texas

80.2

11.9

7.9

Florida

64.5

29.6

5.9

Illinois

57.4

33.6

9.0

All other states combined

66.9

26.3

6.8

 

Source: Pooled data from Gallup polls taken in June and July 1995. The question asked was "In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased or decreased?"



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