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“The Impact of Education Content on Anti-Immigrant Attitudes” by Boyoon Lee

August 26, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Author: Boyoon Lee (Penn State).

Abstract: While scholars agree that education is a strong predictor of anti-immigration sentiment, the validity of the underlying assumption that the content of education is pro-immigration has rarely been examined. I argue that the driving force behind the anti-immigrant sentiment is not just educational attainment but the content of the education. Educational content that encourages tolerance and open-mindedness fosters pro-immigrant attitudes, whereas educational content that emphasizes ethnic and cultural homogeneity promotes anti-immigrant attitudes. Educational attainment is not irrelevant; the impact of educational content is expected to grow with educational attainment as individuals pursuing higher education pay greater attention to the content of the educational curriculum. To test investigate the causal effect of the state-guided education content on anti-immigrant attitudes, I exploit a junior-high textbook reform by the Taiwanese government in 1997 that introduced a new narrative promoting ethnic national identity. Using a difference-in-difference design based on the variations in the intensity of the textbook reform by educational path (academic or vocational) and date of birth, I find that individuals who were exposed and paid intensive attention to the new textbooks exhibit higher levels of anti-immigrant sentiment.

Discussants: TBD.

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