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Antti Kaihovaara, Zhen Jie Im

Jobs at risk? Task routineness, offshorability, and attitudes toward immigration


Abstract In this paper, we study the relationship between occupational vulnerability and attitudes toward immigration in Western Europe. We measure occupational vulnerability as the risk of unemployment due to routine-biased technological change and offshoring of jobs to other countries. Previous empirical studies in political economy have shown that individuals’ policy preferences echo their economic risks and prospects. Workers in low routine occupations are most worried about their job market prospects, most likely to demand social protection and least likely to support free trade. We find that attitudes toward immigration become considerably more negative as occupational task routineness increases. We do not find a similar association between occupational offshorability and immigration attitudes. Direct exposure to global competition is not associated with increased worries about immigration. However, offshorability seems to be associated with the polarization of attitudes toward immigration between routine and nonroutine workers.