Against the Flow: Differentiating Between Public Opposition to the Immigration Stock and Flow

Yotam Margalit, Omer Solodoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vast research on immigration lumps together native citizens' attitudes toward two different groups: the immigrant stock of non-naturalized resident aliens, and the immigrant flow, that is, the future arrival of foreigners seeking to enter and live in the country. Does popular opposition to immigration distinguish between the two, and if so, how? This article analyzes theoretically the reasons the stock and flow might induce different views among natives, and presents experimental evidence from the United States showing that natives are systematically more accepting of the former. The analysis indicates that this 'stock premium' partly stems from a sense of moral obligation toward people residing in the country. Replicating two widely cited experiments, the study shows that the stock-flow distinction has important implications for the interpretation of earlier findings on immigration attitudes, and for understanding voter preferences regarding policies designed to curtail immigration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1075
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 22 Jul 2022


  • attitudes toward immigration
  • experiment
  • immigration flow
  • immigration stock
  • public opinion

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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