A part of a book.
Chapter: chapter ou part
The role of prejudice in the discounting of immigrant skills
Title of the book
The cultural psychology of immigrants
Address of publication
Attitudes toward immigrants and obstacles to their successful integration into receiving societies have emerged as important areas of investigation for the 21st century. Immigration rates have risen to unprecedented levels globally, and western countries increasingly depend on immigrants to maintain their population size and labor force (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2004). As a result, the reactions of members of receiving societies to immigrants and immigration are of importance both for the achievement and well-being of immigrants, and for the economic and social well-being of the receiving societies. In North America, some negative beliefs and attitudes toward immigrants are evident. Previous research indicates that immigrants are at times seen as competing with members of the host nation for economic resources and for cultural dominance, and as a threat to the host society (e.g., Esses, Hodson, & Dovidio, 2003; Esses, Jackson, & Armstong, 1998; Stephan, Renfro, Esses, Stephan, & Martin, in press; Stephan, Ybarra, & Bachman, 1999). Such beliefs can lead to negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration that have important implications for the treatment of immigrants. In this chapter, we focus on one domain in which attitudes toward immigrants may play a particularly important role – the integration of immigrants into the host country’s labor force. In particular, we examine the role of attitudes toward immigrants in the devaluation or discounting of immigrants’ skills (e.g., educational credentials and work experience). The chapter is organized as follows: Following an overview of immigrant participation in the North American labor force, we review analyses of census and survey data that have provided evidence of the discounting of immigrants’ skills and that have suggested that racial minority immigrants may be particularly likely to experience skill discounting. Next, we describe the context in which the assessment of foreign credentials takes place and suggest a framework for examining the role of prejudice in this process. We then present our experimental research that has begun to investigate the role of prejudice in immigrant skill discounting. We conclude by discussing the practical and theoretical implications of this research.
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