Existing research has emphasized that neoliberalism triggers anti-immigrant attitudes. At the national level, this has been attributed to two context-dependent mechanisms: the existence of radical right-wing political parties that combine pro-market ideology with authoritarian social conservatism, and an ethnically and racially heterogeneous environment in which immigrants are over-identified as welfare recipients. However, these associations may not be context-dependent because the majority of people tends to share the stereotype of immigrants as incompetent and welfare-dependent. To test this, we used the case of Japan, where the presence of radical right-wing parties is marginal in national politics and the size of immigrants is considerably small. By analyzing representative survey data, we showed that neoliberalism is associated with anti-immigrant attitudes, even in Japan. Furthermore, we conducted a survey experiment in which we varied the skill level and country of origin of immigrants in vignettes. The results showed that respondents who espoused the neoliberal ideology were more sensitive to the skill level of immigrants. These respondents strongly opposed low-skilled immigrants and in favor of high-skilled immigrants. They were also opposed to the immigration of certain ethinic groups—Chinese immigrants. These results suggest that the association between neoliberalism and anti-immigrant attitudes is not necessarily context-dependent, but rather that stereotypes about immigrants facilitate the association.
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