No. 1273 - Immigration and fear of unemployment: evidence from individual perceptions in Italy

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by Eleonora Porreca and Alfonso RosoliaApril 2020

The belief that a higher share of immigrants in the labour market worsens one's own occupational opportunities may discourage workers, entailing less on-the-job or job-search effort. As a consequence, realized employment outcomes would turn out to be worse even if the individual beliefs were wrong. The paper assesses whether these beliefs are grounded in fact, exploiting data from the 2016 Survey of Household Income and Wealth.

On average, Italian citizens appear to be excessively pessimistic about the effects of immigration on their own employment opportunities. The strong negative correlation between the employment outcomes expected in the 12 months following their interview for the 2016 Survey of Household Income and Wealth and the share of immigrants in the local labour market is almost entirely explained by biased beliefs about the consequences of immigration, whose observable effects are quite limited