I investigate the effect of attitudes toward migrants on the average skill composition of immigrants in destination countries. A model is presented showing that negative attitudes toward migrants can reduce the average skill composition. The intuition for the result is that the highly skilled are more mobile and hence more sensitive to negative attitudes. To test the hypothesis, I use survey data on attitudes toward migrants as well as data on migrant stocks by education level and origin country. The empirical analysis is based on two classes of theoretical models and I find consistent evidence for the hypothesis that more positive attitudes increase the skill composition of immigrants. The results imply that general attitudes toward migrants can be relevant for policies seeking to attract highly skilled migrants.
international migration high-skilled immigration immigration attitudes