Why do citizens prefer high-skilled immigrants to low-skilled immigrants? To understand the causal mechanism behind this tendency among citizens, we conducted a vignette survey experiment that enables us to clarify the role of multiple mediators. We specifically focused on three key factors that have been proposed in existing research as those that could lead citizens to welcome high-skilled immigrants: expectations of economic contribution, welfare contribution, and small crime potential. We found that the skill premium was fully eliminated when natives were informed that immigrants would be engaged in low-skill jobs in the host country, which underscores the essential role that post-migration work plays in the acceptance of immigrants by natives. Our findings provide suggestive evidence that natives welcome high-skilled immigrants simply because they expect economic benefits from high-skilled immigrants, not because they expect them to contribute to welfare or be less likely to commit crimes.
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