It is commonly argued that skilled immigration benefits the destination country through several channels. Yet, only a limited number of countries report having policies in place aimed at increasing the intake of skilled immigrants. Why? In this paper, we analyse the factors that affect a direct measure of individual attitudes towards skilled migration. We focus on two main channels: the labour market and the welfare state. We find that more educated natives are less likely to favour skilled immigration - consistent with the labour market channel - while richer people are more likely to do so - in accordance with the welfare state channel under the tax adjustment model. Our findings thus suggest that the labour market competition threat perceived by skilled natives in the host countries might be driving the observed cautious policies.

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The World Economy
Erasmus School of Economics