Title page for ETD etd-04102007-103358

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wilkinson, Betina Cutaia
Author's Email Address bcutai1@lsu.edu
URN etd-04102007-103358
Title Understanding Americans' Attitudes toward Latino and Asian Immigration
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
James C. Garand Committee Chair
Kathleen Bratton Committee Member
Leonard Ray Committee Member
  • immigration attitudes
Date of Defense 2007-04-03
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this paper is to explore the determinants of Americans’ attitudes toward immigration. I develop a measure of general support for immigration based on individuals’ responses to four immigration items: (1) support for increases in (legal) immigration; (2) feeling thermometer scores for illegal immigrants; (3) support for spending on border security to prevent illegal immigration; and (4) having “controlling illegal immigration” as a foreign policy goal. These items load on a single factor and permit us to generate a global pro-immigration scale that reflects Americans’ general views toward immigration. Further, I develop a comprehensive model of immigration attitudes that includes eight clusters of independent variables: (1) symbolic politics attitudes; (2) economic self interest; (3) demographic attributes; (4) feelings toward Hispanics and Asians, which are two groups commonly associated with immigration; (5) media effects; (6) values, including Americanism, moral traditionalism, egalitarianism, and views about important foreign policy goals; (7) religion effects; and (8) state racial, ethnic, and economic context. I find that Americans’ attitudes toward immigration are driven primarily by demographic attributes, feelings toward Hispanics and Asians, Americanism and other relevant values and views regarding foreign policy goals. Surprisingly, economic self interest plays almost no role in shaping immigration attitudes. Symbolic politics attitudes (such as political ideology and partisan identification) do not have a significant effect on support for immigration in the main model, yet the path model indicates that political ideology has a strong indirect and direct effect on immigration attitudes. Moreover, I find large differences in coefficients for Latino and Asian variables, signifying that further research should be conducted to explore why Americans view Asians and Hispanics differently.
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