Determinants of public attitudes toward immigration
the case of South Korea
Public attitudes toward immigrants have been a topic that has received the most attention in many political and social science disciplines in recent years. There are various theoretical and empirical studies to explain what determines anti-immigration attitudes. In this study, I review the relevant literature and suggest various factors that influence the formation of the public’s immigration attitude in South Korea’s case.
While most of the previous literature either focuses on just one or two determinants that are likely to have an impact on public attitudes toward immigration or chooses a political/economic approach over a social/cultural approach (or vice versa), I bring those determinants together to examine the overall impact. The aim of this study is to check the validity of some of the findings from the West in South Korea’s context and to fill the existing gap by testing the additional determinants that have not yet been studied in this country through a survey specifically designed for this paper.
This study analyzes the correlation between each determinant and public’s attitude toward immigration by running a logit model based on the responses from 1,000 survey participants in South Korea. I find that satisfaction with one’s life has a positive correlation with a favorable attitude toward immigration in general, and the high correlation remained even when immigrants’ occupation or country of origin differed. The finding is significant because it has not been included as a determinant in most immigration-related studies. Some of the determinants already proven in other countries were also verified in this study, such as belief in racial/ethnic stereotypes, education level, and assimilation efforts. Furthermore, this study reveals how the public reacts differently when a specific immigrant group is suggested in comparison to when asked about “immigration” in general.
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