Large-Minded Agers: Do Attitudes Towards Immigration Change After Retirement?
When speaking about attitudes towards immigration, one argument is often used: Individuals who compete with immigrants in the labour market are said to be more against immigration than individuals who do not. Empirical support for this argument is widely debated, but still it remains.
In a recent study, researcher Anne-Marie Jeannet aims to evaluate this so-called ‘labour market competition hypothesis’. To do so, she investigated the impact of retirement from the labour market. One would assume: As soon as a person retires, their opinions towards immigrants could become less defensive.
Jeannet used a cross-national survey experiment from 14 western European countries. The results show that retiring from the labour market does not have a significant impact on a person’s opinion about immigrants, and these effects are also not affected by a single country.
In the second empirical part, Jeannet used a survey experiment to investigate whether or not the lack of a ‘retirement effect’ is driven by self-interest, or rather a socio-tropic motivation - meaning a perception of what is in the best interest of society.
She finds that retired individuals are more likely to have restrictive policy preferences when immigration is framed as unskilled. Therefore, she assumes that retirees remain socio-tropically orientated and have costs and benefits to the national economy in mind, rather than their own narrow self-interest.