Frances Rosenbluth lecture, "What Explains Bias toward Immigrants in Japan" UTokyo July 9, 2015, 6:00 [note early start]

Gregory Noble's picture
July 9, 2015
Subject Fields: 
Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Sociology, Social Sciences

The Contemporary Japan Group at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Science (ISS, or Shaken) and the Todai-Yale Initiative

welcome you to the 6th Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lecture

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

(Damen Wells Professor of Political Science, Yale University)

What Explains Bias toward Immigrants? Evidence from a Conjoint Survey Experiment in Japan

(with Seiki Tanaka [University of Amsterdam] and Rieko Kage [University of Tokyo]).     


Thursday, July 9, 2015 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Akamon Sōgō Kenkyūtō Room 549, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo

An emerging academic consensus contends that economic self-interest alone cannot explain individual attitudes towards immigration in rich democracies.A recent welter of studies points to some combination of “sociotropic” concern for the nation’s overall economy, generalized worries about fiscal drain, and/or fear of a dilution of cultural “purity” interacting with specific concerns about competition for wages or jobs (c.f. Hanson, Scheve, and Slaughter 2007; Mansfield and Mutz 2009; Hainmueller and Hiscox 2010; Tingley 2013; Malhotra, Margalit, and Mo 2013; Dancygier and Donnelly 2013; Goldstein and Peters 2014).  Our study adds support to this psychologically-inflected view, finding that in Japan, as elsewhere, skilled workers prefer skilled immigrants to low-skilled immigrants. A preference for skilled immigrants, which is not unique to Japan but is common across rich countries, poses a double challenge to the standard tenets of neoclassical economics since low-skilled workers, provided they are not net welfare recipients, should both contribute to the economy as a whole and be less threatening to the jobs and wages of native high skilled workers.

Although more research is needed to trace and verify the mechanisms, our findings are consistent with a socially constructed “sociotropic xenophobia” for electoral gain and business success.


Frances McCall Rosenbluth is a comparative political economist with a special interest in Japan.  Her recent publications include The Political Economy of Japan’s Low Fertility (Stanford 2007, edited); Japan Transformed: Political Change and Economic Restructuring (Princeton 2010, with Michael Thies); War and Statebuilding in Medieval Japan (Stanford 2010, co-edited with John Ferejohn); Women, Work, and Power (2010 Yale, with Torben Iversen); and Tug of War: Military Conflict and the Democratic Bargain (Norton forthcoming, with John Ferejohn).


The ISS Contemporary Japan Group provides English-speaking residents of the Tokyo area with an opportunity to hear cutting-edge research in social science and related policy issues, as well as a venue for researchers and professionals in or visiting Tokyo to present and receive knowledgeable feedback on their latest research projects. Admission is free and advance registration is not required. Everyone is welcome.
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