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Christopher Roth - Research Summary

Bocconi University

Does Information Change Attitudes Towards Immigrants?

Many people in the U.S. and in Europe have biased beliefs about immigrants. In this paper, we examine whether providing information about immigrants affects people's attitude towards them. We first use a large representative cross-country survey experiment with more than 19,000 participants to show that people who are told the actual share of immigrants in their country become less likely to state that there are too many of them. We also conduct an online experiment in the U.S., where we provide information about immigration to half of the participants, before measuring their attitude towards immigrants with self-reported and behavioral outcomes. We find that participants in the treatment group update their beliefs about immigrants, and they donate more money to a pro-immigrant charity. However, their self-reported policy preferences remain broadly unchanged, and they do not become more willing to sign a petition in favor of immigration reform. Interestingly, Republicans and people who are worried about immigration respond more strongly to the information treatment, both in terms of their views on immigrants and their policy preferences. Finally, we also measure people's self-reported policy preferences, attitudes, and beliefs in a four-week follow-up, and we show that the treatment effects persist. The authors of this paper are Alexis Grigorieff, Christopher Roth and Diego Ubfa and the paper can be downloaded here.

The project has also received coverage in the Washington Post and VoxEU