Research / BFI Working PaperMar 31, 2022

The Immigrant Next Door: Long-Term Contact, Generosity, and Prejudice

Leonardo Bursztyn, Thomas Chaney, Tarek A. Hassan, Aakaash Rao

We study how decades-long exposure to individuals of a given foreign descent shapes natives’ attitudes and behavior toward that group. Using individualized donations data from large charitable organizations, we show that long-term exposure to a given foreign ancestry leads to more generous behavior specifically toward that group’s ancestral country. To shed light on mechanisms, we focus on attitudes and behavior toward Arab-Muslims, combining several existing large-scale surveys, cross-county data on implicit prejudice, and a newly-collected national survey. We show that greater long-term exposure: (i) decreases both explicit and implicit prejudice against Arab-Muslims, (ii) reduces support for policies and political candidates hostile toward Arab-Muslims, (iii) leads to more personal contact with Arab-Muslim individuals, and (iv) increases knowledge of Arab-Muslims and Islam in general.

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