U.S. Immigrants’ Attitudes Toward Libertarian Values

It is very important to serve up the other side of the story.  Here is a 2013 paper by UCSD psychologist Hal Pashler:


While there has been much discussion of libertarians’ (generally although not universally favorable) attitudes toward liberal immigration policies, the attitudes of immigrants to the United States toward libertarian values have not previously been examined. Using data from the 2010 General Social Survey, we asked how American-born and foreign-born residents differed in attitudes toward a variety of topics upon which self-reported libertarians typically hold strong pro-liberty views (as described by Iyer et al., 2012). The results showed a marked pattern of lower support for pro-liberty views among immigrants as compared to US-born residents. These differences were generally statistically significant and sizable, with a few scattered exceptions. With increasing proportions of the US population being foreign-born, low support for libertarian values by foreign-born residents means that the political prospects of libertarian values in the US are likely to diminish over time.
The pointer is from Billy Willy.  I would point out this is all the more true for the future of the economics profession, given how many recent graduate students come from outside the United States.


Did the paper for test for correlation between libertarian values and perceptions of xenophobia? Immigrants are very sensitive to the second, and could be expected to reject the first because of it's common (perceived) association with the second. Given a decrease of this over time, support for libertarian values might increase, then - or it might decrease if the perceived or real xenophobia it is often associated with increases

But aren't libertarians the most pro-immigration of any political group by far?

not in my experience of them when visiting the states as a potential immigrant - you might argue that a true libertarian would be, but most are republican voters...

I think using "immigrants" as one monolithic group confuses the picture. My experience is that the "richer immigrants" are libertarian and the "poorer immigrants" are not.

American immigrants are bimodal in income distribution with immigrants at the bottom and immigrants at the very top and the views and opinions of those two cohorts seem quite distinct.

Quite likely though that in sheer numbers the poor immigrant group swamps out the rich immigrant group. Which is why I feel this sort of survey reveals more of a rich-versus-poor preference gap.

I could be wrong; are there similar surveys about rich and poor differential attitudes towards libertainism?

I doubt this. Rich immigrants from say Europe or India will come with the expectations of their peers back home, and compared to Americans they will idealise the free market less. In fact for Europeans that might be *more* likely among the rich than the poor. But my *very* vague knowledge of Chinese immigrants in Australia says that they are mostly prefer free-market politics.

But - I LEFT Europe to escape its deadening left-wing ideology and come to the US, with its more hopeful, freer-market approach. I have been saddened to watch the US move closer to Europe ever since.

Remember, emigrants from Europe are not the same as people who stay in Europe.

Yes, but free market politics is not libertarian-ism. The marked difference between a moderate Republican and a Libertarian is the desire to create a fantastic environment for business vs. tearing down the market to create a free for all.

Those are very different views, and I would expect to see a lot of affluent immigrants becoming moderate Republicans, but not Libertarians.

That would not explain why immigrants are so strongly for the Democratic Party - the party of slavery and segregation, the party that was the political wing of the KKK for many years, the party that voted against the Civil Rights Act (well, OK, perhaps that is not true - but a lot more Democrats voted against it than Republicans).

There is probably a simpler explanation - the Republicans are seen as the party of the British-origin Establishment. Every new immigrant community (and after the Civil War, dispossessed Southern Whites) has sought to challenge their place in American political life. Thus they vote Democrat. As the old WASP elite has declined, it has been forced to bid for the support of Southern Whites and Northern non-Anglo communities - the Nixon Southern strategy and the Reagan Democrats. It has been mildly successful in doing so. The Democrats have retained everyone who continues to dislike WASPs. Naturally immigrant communities see the WASPs as having things they would like and so vote Democrat. That is why, for instance, Affirmative Action punishes WASPs but does not disproportionately punish Jewish Americans - it is about giving Democrat voters access to the Ivy League.

I think you are over-thinking it. I wouldn't be surprised if half the immigrants surveyed had no clue what the KKK was.

Or, you know, people look how the parties acted in the last 10-15 years instead of 100s of years ago.

If people looked at the last ten to fifteen years, Blacks would be voting Republican.

Have libertarian values ever increased much past around 10%? It seems to be an ideology that is appealing to only a fairly small subset of humanity.

In my experience it seems to appeal mostly to those who have inherited a large amount of privilege, so that could explain why it would be of such low appeal to immigrants. Maybe in 3 generations?

Oz, I think you are allowing the media's image of libertarianism to cloud reality. Libertarians are the most open-minded and tolerant of all people, that's why they (we) are libertarian. Xenophobic? Nice term to throw out there. You forgot misogynist and anti-child. Did I leave any of the "hate" terms out? LOL!

That libertarianism and patriotism are linked in the country's founding story is pretty exceptional about America.

Libertarian slave-owners, Steve?

Slaves are property.

What does that have to do with libertarianism? There are libertarian traditions that claim voluntary slave contracts and relations are permissible, but that wasn't the nature of slavery in the US.

Forgive me. I forgot I'm at aspergers.com so these things have to be explained.

To 18th century Lockeans of bourgeois English descent, African slaves were chattel to which property rights could attach, no different than your property right to your downloaded internet porn.

Daniel, you got a purty mouth.

If slaves are property, they can be owned by libertarians without batting an eye, contrary to dearieme's implication.

Slaves being property is not something unique to libertarianism. Slaves are property by definition, under any and all regimes, whether libertarian, non-libertarian, or anti-libertarian. There are libertarian traditions that claim voluntary slave contracts and relations are permissible. There aren't any libertarian traditions that claim involuntary or forcible slavery is justified.

I hear this claim a lot from libertarians. I have a tough time accepting it. A deep suspicion of secular authority is not uncommon even amongst radical leftists. The quality that divides modern libertarians from the classical liberal, in my view, is the human condition. The 18th century man had a clear eyed view of the realities of the human animal. Modern libertarians have an almost childlike naivete about their fellow man. Maybe I'm being unfair to the Reason crowd, but that's always been my sense. That and their obsession with legalizing weed, something I suspect the Founders would have thought was very strange.

Why, because there were so many illegal drugs in the Colonial period?

Congratulations! You managed to ask a stupid question and give a stupid answer in one sentence.

Given the importance of hemp at the time of the Founding, the strange thing would be that it would ever become illegal.

Describing America's founders as libertarian is anachronistic. David Frum had a pretty good post on this two years ago. The brief summary is that most ordinary Americans were deeply influenced by a sort of communitarian Calvinism that might be highly suspicious of central authority but one that also advocates lots of local control. As for elite Americans, the example of the decidedly non-libertarian Roman Republic was an essential model for them.

Libertarianism goes against human nature just as communism did.

Communism failed because it made on the individual the impossible demand that he or she consider the interests of abstract people the same as his. While humans are natural communists, this only works in communal ancestral hunter gatherer tribes.

Libertarians demand that people down on their luck never make tribal demands on their societies, which is simply unnatural.

100% false. It says nothing about voluntary associations. It's laughable to compare the U.S. to a "tribe". Our relationship with the state is impersonal, not tribal.

I can see the argument for it being human nature to "enforce" altruism (when there is the opportunity) within a social construct like the state. It's an answer to the "free rider" problem wherein everyone benefits from altruism but would decline to participate in financing it if given the chance.

I'd be curious to know whether libertarians are more or less likely to voluntarily give to private charity. I'm sure there is a study, Cowen's Law # whatever.

The prevalent view seems to be, "I'm already being asked to fork over too much in taxes; when the taxes return to reasonable levels then I'll start giving more to private charity." I do know that if you divide folks into four quadrants using Secular/Religious and Conservative/Liberal as the criteria that "Secular Conservatives" are by far the least generous in terms of giving to private charities.

Hmmmmm..... are we to assume then that in a liberal democratic society he or she doesn't need to consider the interests of the abstract "other" and if that is the case why spend so much in the legal sphere. As for communism, can you please tell me where it has been implemented because other than the term being used to describe state socialism I can not think of an example other than a two year period during the English revolution of 1649.

Depending on your definition of communism, you might try Plymouth Rock and Jamestown.

Most other countries' foundation stories are, basically, about the formation of a strong state and strong army, and then about who gets to control the strong state. As Edmund Burke said, The Revolution was made not to make France free but to make France formidable.

Louis XIV didn't have a strong state and a strong army? Revolutions are about "Who whom?".

Louis XIV precisely exemplifies the French Story.

As does Napoleon.

Think about the history of most countries in terms of Arnold Kling's 3 Axes model of politics. The artificial two party system in the U.S. confuses things, but British history can make it clear. Think about Edward Britain in the early 1900s:

Whigs/Liberals represent Liberty
Tories/Conservatives represent Order
Socialists/Labour represent Compassion for the Oppressed

That's a pretty natural breakdown. Except in America, back in the 1700s, the Whigs won, so our traditions emphasize a Whiggish version of America. Not surprisingly, immigrants tend to come from cultures less dominated by Whiggish thinking.

Their foundation myths are about why they are god's special snowflake. Men will not band together to slaughter the other guys because they don't like the way they organize their sock drawers. America has always been unique in that regard. We're god's special little snowflake because we choose to accept his proposition. Blood and soil is not our thing, which is why immigration has mostly worked for us. But, as the termites of the Left gnaw through the founding documents and thus the very idea of a propositional nation, a lot of things that used to work have stopped working.

"with a few scattered exceptions": tell us more, Mr Cowen.

from the paper: "The results suggest a strong and seemingly rather general tendency for immigrants to the US to shun libertarian views, when compared to US-born respondents. Exceptions include tolerance for free expression by homosexuals (where a trend for less tolerance by foreign-born respondents did not reach statistical significance) and tolerance for publication of erotic materials (where no significant differences emerged.)"

The paper at the link is short and simple, too simple I would argue for it's strong language and these final remarks:

"These limitations notwithstanding, the results show a strong and non-obvious pattern. The findings may have a rather ironic implication: while enthusiastic believers in libertarian philosophy often speak fondly about the impact of immigration upon the US economy and society (e.g., Caplan, 2012), the ultimate political impact of continuing immigration (and possible legalization of the status of undocumented immigrants) may hold in store a rude shock for libertarians and libertarian-sympathizers."

Come on. Caplan is not calling for open borders because he wants more people to like him or his views. The world already is a pretty rude shock to libertarians.

The rude shock in his case will be when they come and slice his bubble open to get at his wallet.

"But ... but ... free movement of labor" [Is set on fire]

The world already is a pretty rude shock to libertarians.

Rude, perhaps (not my choice of words). But not a shock. Not even a mild surprise.

Well, I don't know about you, but it took me a number of years to realize just how deeply most people embrace one or another type of nanny state.

If you read Caplan's posts, you find he labors under the delusion that immigrants will grow more libertarian over time. And you also will find that he lives in a freakin' fantasy world without any rude shocks.

The paper is freely available at the link.

Yeah, but evidently Caplan must not have read it. What I liked is how homosexuals ranked highest in free expression, and racists and anti muslin clerics lowest. Also the categories were clearly tilted--I think would have been more interesting would have been to use Jonathan Haidts questionnaire which would separate liberals from libertarians and both from conservatives.

Claudia's comments were spot on.

You did not read it very carefully, either. No homosexuals, racists, or clerics were interviewed (on purpose, although some no doubt were included by chance). The "Support for Free Expression" question was about whether the respondents (US natives vs. immigrants) would allow homosexuals, racists, etc. to freely express their views.

Yeah, you're right: Foreign born persons would permit homosexual speaker or books to be in a library at a higher percentage than Libertarians would permit an anti-US cleric or communist the same rights.


This is BS. In Canada the immigration community has pushed politics more towards libertarian values (more economic freedom, less paternalism).

That's because the new Canadians don't want to pay taxes for old Canadians who aren't reproducing themselves.

Any data to back that up? In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if immigrants to Canada tended to be more libertarian than their US counterparts, as the demographics of these two groups are very different.

And yet Canadian immigrants are now identified as one of the poorest segments in the country, along with single mothers and aboriginals.

So I'm not sure how the heaviest users if welfare can at the same time be its greatest opponents.

Especially when the leftist parties - the NDP and Liberals - dominate the cities that carry huge immigrant populations.

Remember too that immigrant Canadians tend toward the educated and Canadian occupational licensing drives them into poverty.
I have never met such overqualified busboys as in Canada.

Remember, the Loyalists lost in America in 1781, so many moved to Canada. America's tradition of patriotism=liberty is unusual even in North America.

Even the rest of the Anglosphere has a sizable tradition verging on authoritarianism: When Prime Minister Harold Macmillan promised his Tories would provide "the smack of firm government," he was invoking an ancient English longing for a powerful state. Granted, Britain also has a Whig/Liberal tradition wary of too much power, but the point is that America is one of the very few countries in the world where the Whigs one a crushing victory at the founding, so America is rare in having a traditional national ideology that is overwhelmingly Whiggish.

America’s tradition of patriotism=liberty is unusual even in North America.

What horseshit. The nation that brought up the rear in the global march to abolish slavery; a nation that has routinely fought wars for no defensible or often discernible cause other than greed (say, from the Mexican War until, I dunno, the Iraq War 1 & 2) (and let us not forget our heroics in Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, etc., etc.); a nation that gave us internment camps for the Japanese; a nation that tried to prohibit alcohol; and a nation that has the most prisoners on the planet has no fucking claim to being one where "patriotism=liberty."

Steve Sailer and others like to tell pretty-sounding stories about liberty but I can't see that we have more liberty in the USA than, say, New Zealand.

I think Sailer has a point if you are talking about "founding Myths" rather than reality. The same people who push the foreign wars and high incarceration rates are often the same people who bellow the loudest about America being the land of the free. You don't get that disconnect in other countries. Authoritarians in most other places will generally cop to being authoritarian, and even boast about it.

But don't Americans overwhelmingly pay far more heed to Foundation Myths that to anything so vulgar as actual history? It's really better to have your foundation myths as distant as King Arthur or Alfred the Great or Canute; then anyone can tell you're being childish if you try to make too much of them.

It is fascinating how deeply marinated people are in the cult of modern liberalism. This poor sap is just vomiting up bits and pieces of the catechism, in reaction to something he sees as complimentary toward America. Look at the rage on display here. The guy is positively unhinged. What makes it interesting to me is his rant is something common in the 1950's amongst proto-radicals lurking around college campuses. Read the literature of the SDS and you'll find rants just like this one. Here we are fifty years on and the self-loathing fanatics are still chasing the same bogeymen.

Maybe you should drop an atomic bomb on him.


While you are busy proposing arguments based on America's "traditions" what about the tradition on immigration?

The founding tradition is settlement, or conquest if you will, not immigration. 'Immigrant' is a status conferred by an already settled state.

It would also be nice if we returned to that tradition of immigrants aspiring to assimilate and accept the national proposition, instead of bringing their own failed propositions with them and a wide array of civil rights laws to bludgeon their hosts with.

Well, as long as there has been immigration, there have been Sailer-esque alarmists. Here's Ben Franklin from 1753:

"Few of their Children in the Country learn English," Franklin wrote. "They import many Books from Germany... The Signs in our Streets have Inscriptions in both Languages, and in some places only German... In short, unless the Stream of their Importation could be turned... they will soon so outnumber us, that all the advantages we have, will not in my Opinion be able to preserve our Language, and even our Government will become precarious."

In 1753, German colonists did not have whole shelves of laws devoted to enforcing imaginary rights or armies of bureaucrats and activists devoted to enlarging the welfare constituency.

...and yet, all the nativist arguments are there. Which tells me the bureaucracy isn't the key issue among nativ

Obviously, Benjamin Franklin was a complete idiot. What you are quoting from, Franklin's Concerning the Increase of Mankind," is the most important breakthrough in social science insight made by American in first couple of centuries, maybe ever. Malthus had to admit a half century later in his second edition than Franklin had anticipated his key ideas.

Franklin pointed out in the early 1750s than in finite territory hemmed in by hostile French and Indian forces, a low density population enjoys higher wages and lower land prices than in Europe, making marriage more affordable.

What changed was not his logic, but the French and Indian War followed by the Revolutionary War, opened up the vast North American continent for settlement. In other words, the logical alternative to Franklin's peacetime immigration restrictionism was military conquest.

Yeah, he frickin' nailed that German immigration issue.

Today's conventional wisdom that immigration is the central tradition of American history was largely invented post-1967. When I was a kid, the conventional wisdom was that essence of the American story was pioneering, settlement, Cowboys and Indians, that kind of thing.

Who were those people settling the frontier? Where did they come from? Wouldn't someone interested in actual history start wondering why German was a native language of many residents of Texas until WWI or noticing all the non-English names that keep on coming up in Union Army records? That pre-1967 Americans downplayed this history is interesting but doesn't tell us much about the actual history of America any more than the tendency to play up the importance of Plymouth Colony while hardly mentioning Jamestown tells us about America's actual earliest settlements.

"conventional wisdom that immigration is the central tradition of American history was largely invented post-1967. -"

I'm no expert on American history, but that statement sounds ridiculous to me.

Honestly, I'd like to see the difference (if any) between the descendants of German Catholics and French Americans. He's obviously wrong on the details, but the details of the details are things I'm unfamiliar with

This is obvious to anyone not living in a bubble.

This is well known. Indians take their socialist baggage along with them. Indians in USA/Australia, for instance, for the most part vote for "progressive" political parties - and REDUCE, not increase, the demand for liberty in these countries.

Demographics are destiny. With only white voters, Romney wins 441-97. As America becomes a Latin American country in demographics, it's politics will also change.

Correct. It will make our politics look more like Latin America's.


If our dusky, collectivist overlords will only reintroduce fastidious grammar, it will all be worth it.

sounds like a study that will be used by the protectionist folks to drive up wages

immigrants come from countries that are more oppresive than the USA and generally seek more freedom even if they cannot convey it explicitly on a survey

Yeah they are mostly opposed to certain policies of their own governments, but generally want a less free society than the USA currently is.

There is a simple Caplan-type reply to this. Just don't give full citizenship. We can easily get the large benefits of open borders without giving the right to vote. If there we just give lifetime green card without citizenship or voting rights the results of the paper are pretty much irrelevant. I don't think Caplan is in for a rude shock since I don't think he advocates giving voting rights, though I may wrong on that. At least I'm sure he would say the main point is the mobility of labor and little is lost if voting rights are completely restricted.

Hey, that's a great idea! Let's invite a bunch of people into the US, preach 'human rights' and equality to them, then tell them their beneath citizenship. I bet nothing could go wrong with that. Dear God, that Caplan fellow is a genius.

Aargh. *they're

I don't see why there would be any problem with this. I personally am a migrant worker on exactly this sort of program. I'm UK born with what is called Permanent Residency in Japan. I can work as I like and come and go as I like for the rest of my life. There are many others like me but I don't know of any who complain about being "beneath citizenship" or even any who have an interest in the right to vote. If this type of status was broadly available in the US I would be really surprised if those people were bothered about voting rights.

What about their children?

The American Experiment was severely disrupted by early 20th century immigration from portions of Europe that supported theocracy during the Protestant Reformation and Enlightenment. This resulted in the centralization of powers during the 20th century replacing the laboratory of the States with strong central governmental control, in direct contravention of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. This then resulted in the immigration liberalizations of the last half of the 20th century and the present condition in which massive amnesty programs for illegal immigrants are routinely proposed and passed as a means of importing not only labor but voters and activists from cultures that have no history of successfully resisting theocratic rule.

That this pro-theocratic liberalization came primarily from the founding culture of Western theocracy, Judaism, is an important, if heretical, topic under the current theocracy that dominates thought in the United States. It is always the case that the most threatening ideas to a theocracy are heresies -- and this is no exception.

Isn't there something of a straw man argument going on here? I've read lots of open border advocacy works and I can't recall anyone that claimed we should give immigrant workers voting rights. Maybe people are confused about the difference between giving easy long term work visas and citizenship, but all the open border advocates I know are pushing for the former not the latter. I'm surprised Tyler thinks this is in some way "the other side of the story" as if open border advocates claimed the world would be improved by immigrants' superior voting skills. I'd be interested to see if someone has claimed that. Even if they do, it's certainly not the mainstream of open border advocacy.

Isn't that one of the limitations of discussions about "open borders"?

The focus is on the immigrant. But we only have the immigrants for one generation.

After that, we have all their citizen descendants who we can never get rid of, should we ever decide it was a mistake to bring in so many new people in so short a time.

Mass migration has already transformed America in less than 50 years. Think of how many jobs technological change has destroyed since 2000, vs. how many new jobs it has created. We don't even know how we will provide enough jobs for ourselves in five years, much less for the additional 85 million people we will have by 2050.

The "open borders" advocates propose unprecedented change with irreversible effects that won't be clear for a generation or more. They are so confident in their theories. But how can they be? They don't know what would happen if their ideas were implemented.

Mass migration has already transformed America in less than 50 years.

For better or for worse?

The common mistake, I think, is in thinking of "immigrants" as one monolithic chunk. We may yet have a gross shortage of, say, doctors while having a glut of janitors.

It's a mistake to think of, or design, immigration policy as one non-selective open door. It has to be fine tuned to be sensitive to skills, sectors etc.

I had a longer answer that got deleted.

Better or worse? Both. We are better for some people being here. We are worse because we have created an expectation -- among employers and among people overseas -- that we will always have a population of illegal workers that they can draw from or join. Eventually there will be a legalization and the cycle will start again.

This has terrible consequences for American workers, particularly the ones in lower paying jobs.

But it is not an exclusive problem at the lower end of the job/income spectrum. We see the aggressive tactics of some of our wealthiest companies to hire anybody they want. They want to be independent of our laws.

Their needs for geniuses and near-geniuses can easily be met.

But that is not what they ask for. Facebook, Google and the rest of the vocal "more immigration" gang want hundreds of thousands of additional high tech workers from overseas that they themselves don't need.

Obviously they want hundreds of thousands of extra overseas workers for other reasons. Given out green cards to every one with a masters degrees means mean of those people won't even be in the top 50% f their class, and many of them will won't be from even 3rd rate programs.

Meanwhile, what about our own people?

They clearly do not care.

Mass migration has been continuously transforming America for much more than 50 years. Current immigration levels (as a percent of the US population) are not exceptionally high.


For most of our history, we could accommodate many more people. For most of our history, we have a population of under 100 million.

I think most people at the time considered America "jelled" before WWII. By then all of our territories had transitioned to states. We had no big land areas left unfilled. We ended a more or less open border policy after WWI.

The mass migration that occurred recently was while we were a First World country of 200 million and while our factories were closing and our own less educated people were finding it hard to find jobs that paid a living wage.

Right now we have many areas of the US in which immigrants and their children make up 20% or more of the population.

How much more mass migration -- of mostly low income and low education people, if future immigrants match those who have come recently -- are you advocating?

And for what purpose, exactly?

....and for most of our history we have had xenophobia and paranoia about running out of space.

Your sentiment that we cannot accommodate any more people is hardly novel if you study American history.

….and for most of our history we have had xenophobia and paranoia about running out of space.

Now you're going to complain about people accurately predicting the future (our present)?

Yeah, the US is super out of space. That's why its population density is lower than the vast majority of countries in the world.

Going to put them in your house, GIT?

Why would I need to do that? Lots of vacant rentals


Yeah, Ben Franklin was accurate in 1753. Damn all those Germans we let in.


There is no question about accommodating more people.

We will have to accommodate many more people than anybody thought we would in 1970, 1980, 1990 -- maybe even 2000.

The question is: There are people advocating that we roughly double the number of green cards and temporary work visas we issue each year. I am opposing that. No one is saying we will not have future immigration.

These questions go far beyond questions about space, although considering the changes global warming will bring, the chronic droughts and floods, etc. that is a real issue. Lots of these issues are not covered in our past history. We are entering new territory, in terms of numbers and the resources required to provide all Americans with a 21st century First World life.

Yeah, Rahul, I'm descended from Germans who wouldn't assimilate until World War I made them think that was a good idea. He really nailed his predictions, AFAICT.

Caplan's open borders views are motivated at least partly by genetic interest:


Just 3 of my ancestors who weren't killed by Cossacks, Communists, or Nazis thanks to pre-WWI open immig policies.

Headline: Libertarian Indians Deny Founding Fathers Admission to America

Libertarian Indians today denied our Founding Fathers Admission to the United, er, whatever, according to USCD Psychologists.

The Founding Fathers failed the Libertarian test, reported the Pyschologist.

1. When asked: The questions ask about whether 5 hypothetical sorts of individuals whose views many people would
disapprove of (namely, an “atheist”, a “communist”, a “racist”, a “homosexual” or an “anti-US
Muslim”) should be allowed to speak or teach on a college campus",

Founding fathers were indignant that anyone who called themselves a racist would not be allowed to teach on a college campus. Afterall, what do you think we mean by 3/5s, and slaves are not persons (although corporations might be, but corporations hadn't been invented in America yet). And, as we have heard from radio broadcasters, the founding fathers were god fearing men, and therefore would not support atheists.

2. When asked the two other Libeertarian questions: Would you permit drugs and the sale of erotic materials, the Founding fathers replied: "What you been smokin' man", in a disapproving scowl. The Indians who administered the Libertarian test replied: "We smoke Many things. And, we share wigwams with many squaws, and maybe your wife or daughter if you are not careful"

3. On the final question: "In aquestion asking specifically whether or not the respondent favored preferences in hiring black, a four-point scale was used to either strongly support, support, oppose, or strongly oppose such
preferences." Once again the Founding Fathers failed, responding: "Hire a black. You must be kidding. They are our slaves."

So, sadly, Our Founding Fathers failed the Libertarian test, and for that reason, the Indian Immigration Officer denied the Founding Fathers entry into the country because they could not uphold Libertarian Values.

I can certainly believe that the mush that is the Iyer et al. list came from "Ia large web-based sample of approximately 12,000 self-identified libertarians," but that doesn't make it a good instrument for examining people's political views. The scant list of references suggests an author ignorant of the lit on political surveying, as does the dude's profile: http://www.psychology.ucsd.edu/people/profiles/hpashler.html

My vague impression of Ron Paul supporters from Facebook is that they are disproportionately Old Americans: Scots-Irish, WASPs, Germans, etc. And they are often from the less densely populated parts of the country: the more Jeffersonian regions.

Libertarianism as an intellectual ideology also has a sizable urban Jewish elite (Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, etc.), but then so do most competing ideologies as well.

I don't think libertarianism appeals all that strongly to, say, Catholic ethnics.

My impression is that idealistic ideologies don't appeal much to nonwhites in America. The government and the media encourage them to be racialist in order to win money and prizes, and so they are.

'Catholic ethnics'

You mean the half of Germans who are also 'Old Americans'?

It must be a very complicated world you live in, one that now also apparently requires the division of a group like 'German' into 'ethnic Catholics' and those who are 'ethnic Lutherans.'

And as for the Irish - well, not too much doubt about their being 'Catholic ethnics,' is there?

Or is the ignorant term 'Catholic ethnics' just another failed attempt to hide what you would prefer to say? Come on, speak plainly - it isn't as if you need any pretence to hide you true beliefs from anyone else.

Note that the rise of libertarianism among the "Old Americans" of the South is a relatively recent phenomenon. The old Democratic coalition included the South and the urban ethnics of the North. Traditionally, cronyism was a big part of the culture of Southern politics. Ideological libertarianism would have been seen as strange and as a Northern thing since regional and local crony politics was such a part of the culture.

Libertarianism basically took off in the South following desegregation and integration. Since blacks were now part of the commons, there was a retreat from the commons by some Southerners, and libertarianism was picked up since it supports policies that decrease the commons or better enable individuals to retreat from or avoid the commons. It's a sort of "political white flight."

This is when many libertarians start to get really upset - when you point out that people are different and that some differences are due to their membership in a particular ethnic (racial) or cultural group. Despite many libertarians' claiming to reject "egalitarianism" they actually do subscribe to the equality of all men in all things - that in a libertarian society everyone would be "equal" and free to pursue their interests. This might be true if there were enough jobs or business opportunities, at decent wages, for people with different skills and interests, without the pressure of new people with ever lower standards who agree to ever lower wages that put them out of work (a low standard of living is another thing that many libertarians smugly believe in - they think America's "standard of living" is too high - although in the scheme just described the rich do get richer and the poor ever poorer). But what happens in a libertarian society when libertarians are proven wrong and some groups can't compete within the libertarian order? Do they expect them to leave the fold and start a social democracy? Or do they themselves start instituting Statist policies to help them become more equal and we're back to were we are now, but worse? What happens when HBD slaps a utopian libertarian in the face?

from a bit of experience looking at GSS data, the amount of missingness, combined with the small number of people from various countries interviewed, lead me to doubt the conclusions. My guess is there's considerable heterogeneity among immigrants, and there is no way to capture that with such small numbers from the GSS.

Immigrants will pool their money to buy a car to get to jobs. People born here will just sit and collect welfare.

Yes, interestingly, the behavior of illegal immigrants is more libertarian than that of US nationals. They value the opportunity to work.

On the other hand, given the opportunity to receive social welfare, they'd value that, too.

Maybe they would if they all worked at the same place.

In this context I am reminded of this post I read on a law enforcement forum a few years ago. I may not agree with its logic entirely, but it does make one pause and think.


A police officer ("10-31Mike") writes:

"I was in a section 8 apartment complex the other day. There were about 20 young able-bodied black males standing out front (ALL DAY AND NIGHT). On the roof there were about 20 not quite so young and not quite so able-bodied hispanic males re-roofing the place. If I was a betting man I’d say 25% might be legal.

Who do you think we should target? The guy that came 1500 miles to get a job or the guy that won’t leave the porch except to cash his welfare check and buy some dope and condoms (that he hasn’t figured out how to use because he keeps knocking up his girlfriends)?"

There never were many black roofers, not in the Northeast at any rate. There used to be lots of white roofers though. It used to pay good money. There were unionized workers outside the big cities even in the 1970s.

Roofing is a tough job often done in terrible heat. We can applaud hard working Hispanics. I feel sorry for them because they are making far less than they should be.

But as an American, I wish our own people were doing those jobs for $20+ an hour. Roofing companies should not be given the option to use illegal labor.

That cop talking about welfare checks for young black guys should have known better. Hardly any of the states give out General Assistance to able bodied single people.

There are in essence no jobs for high school dropouts that pay a living wage. Even if they had graduated high school with no further job training, in the New York area, I can think of no legal job they'd be likely to land that would allow them to rent a studio apartment.

We are becoming a "$10 a hour" nation, but making $10 in your 30s and beyond isn't enough.

And we are seeing later genrations of immigrants who won't work hard for nothing join the housing project loungers up on the roof.

Having fewer good jobs and more people competing for them -- plus more people who aren't even qualified to compete for them is a recipe for disaster. But that is where we are. Hell bent on turning a blind to illegal immigration, many equally hell bent on increasing future immigration, the consequences be damned.

"And we are seeing later genrations of immigrants who won’t work hard for nothing join the housing project loungers up on the roof."

I was not clear. I meant that the citizens descendants of today's immigrants. just like other Americans, won't be willing to work hard on jobs that pay next to nothing. The words "up on the roof" should haven't been there at all.

I don't know about the hard ones, but legal (US citizen) Hispanics have completely replaced blacks in some of the low paying jobs around here. Hard and low paying, yeah, does seem to be done by the illegals

"I wish our own people were doing those jobs for $20+ an hour."

"Your own people" would be paying dearly too, don't forget. It's easy to pass the buck on to the evil roofing company, but ultimately lots of middle class is who is enjoying the fruits of this low cost labor. In any case, I wish I got paid $200 an hour too. But unless you have a sustainable way of making that happen, it's just an idle wish.

PS. Do you think the dysfunctional black job market resulted because of an Hispanic influx?

It is not just the roofing companies.

I do not want anybody, directly or indirectly, to have the option of using illegal immigrants.

We keep transferring money from the lower paid to the higher paid. I can't justify transferring money from the working class to the middle class, via illegal immigraiton.

The situation for blacks has certainly been made worse by the influx of poor immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- over the past 30 years. Between the factory jobs that went overseas, the jobs that disappeared due to technology, the sharing of government resources and low income housing with millions of additional people, it's been one blow after another. Now we see here in New York that things have gone from bad to worse: instead of having to share their neighborhoods with newcomers, blacks are being pushed out by whites with money who are rushing into some formerly poor black neighborhoods.

If a law were suddenly passed making them all legal, would you then be perfectly OK with the $10-an-hour Hispanic roofers pushing out the black?

Is this a letter of the law thing? If Hispanic roofers were strictly seasonal legal guest workers a la some of the farming labor would that satisfy you? Note the position of the blacks remains absolutely unchanged.

I'd prefer a society where people deploy invest capital in developing roof-laying machinery instead of investing capital in lobbying government to let them import ever-cheaper coolies to do backbreaking work.


Legal or illegal doesn't make much difference.

I am against the driving down of wages. I am against pitting our own people against unnecessary competition.

I am certainly against the provisions of the current Senate immigration bill which would roughly double future legal immigration.

I can see we will legalize the illegal immigrants we have. I realize we will bring in tens of millions of the overseas relatives.

But I will never agree to extending and increasing the insanity into the future. We know most guest workers won't leave. We know we do not have jobs for ourselves -- why would we increase green cards from 1 million to 2 million a year.

Some immigration is fine. But we've had too much for years. And we sure shouldn't be increasing future legal immigration or do things to recreate another group of 10+ million illegal immigrations in by 2025 or 2030.

perhaps too many of the immigrants surveyed had read the comments sections of noted libertarian blogs, and were put off by the palpable miasma of smug, self-congratulatory racism.

Yeah. That's it all right.

So like all these people are washing up on the shore thrilled about libertarianism but throw away their support for a free society because they don't like some of the other people who are for freedom. Yeah, that's the ticket.

And how many of them are literate, and how many of those in English?

oops, I'm feeding the troll

Make sense please

The Amish are not libertarians. Close in some ways, but II would call them politically agnostic anarchists. They live outside the society ("live in the world, not of the world") but they will follow its laws where they must. They live in small communities that are theologically and socially tied together, but there is no one Amish way because there is no Amish pope or its equivalent of a centralized policy to enforce uniformity of practice. They are not pushing for the elimination or extreme minimization of the state (hence politically agnostic). Libertarians like to call themselves freedom lovers, etc., whereas the Amish are driven entirely by religious fundamentalism. It is the "right" thing for them to do, rather than the "desirable" thing that is better than other political systems. As an example, the Amish petitioned the courts and were exempted from participation in Social Security. Prior to that they paid the taxes but refused the benefits. That was because they view insurance systems as a form of gambling, and they theologically do not accept gambling. Both before and after their exemption from Social Security they did not use private insurance either, because again they view insurance as gambling.

"Low support for libertarian values by foreign-born residents means that the political prospects of libertarian values in the US are likely to diminish over time."

Descendants of foreign-born residents are native-born residents, so the above conclusion does not hold. As far as I know, American libertarians are just as likely as non-libertarians to have foreign-born ancestors.

Beyond that, the paper's authors examined only "10 pertinent questions, lying within the following four [sic] categories (a) individual freedom of speech, (b) drug laws, (c) laws on publication of erotic materials, (d) affirmative action, and (e) governmental activism relating to income inequality". The paper does not examine views on immigration itself, where I suspect there is more overlap between libertarians and immigrants. Other areas notably left unexamined: free trade, labor restrictions, school choice, regulations on small business, occupational licensing, zoning, right-to-work. I wouldn't say with certainty that immigrants as a group would hold libertarian views in all of these areas, but I would not be surprised if they did in at least some. Also, it's not clear to me that support for old-age entitlements is weaker among native-borns than foreign-borns.

Shocking! This was never mind-numbingly obvious or anything.

The Cathedral doesn't want Americans to know this stuff.. But it is good that you posted about it Tyler.

I'd like to see Bryan Caplan explain figure 4.2 about how thrilled Hispanics are to have a bigger government. Looks like the death knell to Libertarianism given demographic trends.

Caplan, like any sensible person, values his life more than ideology. In his view, open borders generally helps people like him survive.


Just 3 of my ancestors who weren’t killed by Cossacks, Communists, or Nazis thanks to pre-WWI open immig policies.

I said it above but I'll repeat it. Caplan's solution would be simple, namely to allow long term working visas but not citizenship, so these people wouldn't be able to vote in the US. Does that not completely answer the question?

What guarantees does he offer?

Once people come to the US, they usually do not leave.

That is the historical precedent.

Look at how the legalization movement works. Notice how none of the illegal immigrant groups ever say anything bad about the countries they came from. Notice how they make endless demands of this country. Look at how the various groups who think they benefit from having lots more people/customers in the US line up against those who don't, even though many of those people are citizens they swore to represent and citizen customers whose money made them rich and citizen employees whose hard work made their company what it is.

To think that American citizens will truly exert complete control over future immigration just doesn't seem justified to me. We sure don't now.

This had been tried many times in countries with high capital and low labor supply. Germany, Arab Gulf states, Singapore, Hong Kong. The situation with illegal aliens in America 2013, pushing for amnesty, is almost exactly the type of situation that arises, a group of migrant workers with a different legal status.

And what happens once your Morlocks start dropping anchor babies and demanding schools and medicine for them?

Who, exactly, is advocating the temporary or permanent sterilization of guest workers, which would be what that proposal would require?

Schools and welfare are a separate issue. I'm just saying that voting patterns are not an argument against a permanent guest worker program which I think is what most open border activists are asking for. As to the children of immigrant workers, assuming these are citizens, do you claim that although born and raised in the US they would vote in a manner significantly different than longer term immigrant families? I would be surprised if this is the case but if it's true that would be a point against me.

Ever heard of California? Ever look at a county-by-county electoral map of Texas?

Open-borders libertarians are effectively casting votes for social democracy.

I’m just saying that voting patterns are not an argument against a permanent guest worker program

But you're really obviously, catastrophically wrong

Thanks for the replies but can you explain what you mean? Permanent guest workers cannot vote so I still don't see the relevance. Can you explain?

How obvious do i have to make "they breed"? They have sex, the sex makes babies, the babies grow up and vote for big government.

It's not a guess or prediction, it's already happened.

Can you show me the evidence that children of immigrants vote less libertarian than the children of native born Americans? I'm surprised the effect carries on to the children. I suppose we could say that voting rights should only accrue to the children of native born Americans. Would that satisfy you? Or to their grand children?

Can you show me the evidence that children of immigrants vote less libertarian than the children of native born Americans

You're asking this when Hispanic citizens vote about as far to the left as gay playwrights?

That sounds a bit anecdotal. I mean is there a study that looks at the voting patterns of all native born children of immigrants vs those of native born children of native born? Is it really so obvious there is a difference in that case? After all there are probably many first generation immigrants mixed into the data that you are referring to.

Jesus, no one can be as stupid as you pretend to be. Bye.

2nd generation immigrants prefer a smaller role for government than their parents, but prefer larger government than the general public.


See page 73.

Interesting. I would not have expected that. I suppose the only defense would be to say that even the children of guest workers should not get voting rights either.

I think it is absolutely silly to infer anything about the future of the Economics profession's ideological leanings from this study.

Are 50% of professors female & 20% Black n Hispanic just because that's their historical demographic presence? The immigrants who end up being Econ. professors are NOT representative of the General Social Survey sample used by Hal Pashler's paper. This sort of study will tend to oversample attitudes at the bottom of the barrel (economically & by education)

A particularly ironic case in point is western academics who were born in erstwhile communist nations. Most tend to have a rebound loathing of anything faintly socialist & are quite libertarian.

Yes, but it changed as soon as the Cold War ended. These conflicts sometimes spillover into domestic politics, such as the legislature in Virginia voting on the South Vietnamese flag. The split happens with Chinese; many older Chinese immigrants are fiercely anti CCP. Since the Russians gave up on communism, the split isn't as severe, but my experience is that older Russians dislike (to the point of hate in some cases) the younger/newer Russian immigrants because while they came for freedom, they see the recent arrivals as coming for the welfare.

I am from completely non Anglo-Saxon background, other than my Swedish side who were small town businessmen, there isn't any libertarianism whatsoever in my family background. I am very libertarian though and quite a few of my cousins are tending in that direction.

The social and political attitudes of immigrant parents have surprisingly little effect on their children and grandchildren, especially the grandchildren. Assimilation is a lot more powerful than people seem to believe. And my experience in the various public universities I have been at is that it still is.

Why would a libertarian-leaning person even want to immigrate to the land of Obamacare?

You don't know much about how healthcare in other countries works, I guess.

The point I was making is that folks who are yearning for a society that is free (economically and politically) are not necessarily considering the United States as an ideal place to emigrate to. We may be attracting a different type of immigrant today than we did in the past. Some countries have better health care systems than ours and others have worse systems....that's besides the point.

Immigrants don't spend much time looking at freedom in the same way you do. I know I didn't. There are a whole lot more important reasons to select an immigration target, like how easy it is to immigrate, how easy is it to find a job, how well that job pays compared to other similar options, and how easy it is to adapt to the new country's culture.

So the only freedom that matters is the freedom to have a good life. There are plenty of areas where reduced freedom isn't a big deal, because it is far easier to live a good life there than in a place that is more free, but poorer.

So unless you are looking at tiny states where it's very hard for most people to move to, the US is still a prime immigration location. The ACA doesn't change this in the slightest.

So, are the Amish libertarians or not? When it comes to their shunning of the state, certainly yes. Otherwise, no.

The secular libertarianism of American type is exceedingly rare in the world; even in America, this is not a major philosophy. You will, nevertheless, find significant subsets of it in other philosophies / value sets.

Well I am like an Amish libertarian, I have very strong moral views and am very conservative in personal matters, but I know for a fact that my opinions are in an extreme minority, so I am very libertarian, because I think that libertarianism protects minority rights. 20 years ago I was president of the Libertarian party at my school and my #2 turned out to be Opus Dei. In the years since he has been a model libertarian, far better than me actually.

I live in a highly diverse city with a very large population of upper middle class Asians, especially Indians. I have found they are much, much more likely to use public facilities, ranging from buses to the the library.

I've also had the experience of dealing with immigrants from authoritarian Middle East states. While they don't miss the secret police, they do expect the state to take care of them.


Craig says: "upper middle class Asians, especially Indians [are] much, much much more likely to use public facilities, ranging from buses to the the library." Whenever I visited America I stayed with upper-middle class Indians , and all of them used only cars. Some even had two cars.

Most have cars and most drive everywhere. However, the few passengers that travel by bus to and from work in our city are almost all Indian. So while the total may be one or two dozen, its still nearly 100 percent of bus riders in our city.

Now I just don't believe you. What city is this?

Why would you not believe me?

because there aren't that many Indians in this country, and I've never heard of a city where the small fraction of any population dominates bus travel in the way you're suggesting. It's incredibly unlikely

Particularly where you're talking about America's wealthiest ethnicity being the majority user of America's lowest class transporation. A plurality? Yeah, I could see that in a couple of places, but a majority?

You misunderstand me. This is a wealthy suburb. The bus route goes downtown. A majority of the entire ridership for the metropolitan area is black and low-income whites. However, in this one segment, almost all the riders are Indian.

And yet, you're refusing to mention it.

This should make one pause to consider whether changing demographics will ultimately undermine the objectives of immigration policy. It confirms my notion that we ultimately need a two-track immigration and residency policy.

1. Near unlimited access to work permits for anyone that wants to work in the U.S. But guest workers are not citizens.

2. A yearly auction of franchise rights to the highest bidders. This would heavily change the demographic of those that actually become citizens, and I suspect they would be more libertarian, although possibly not much so.

A.G, the problem with more machinery is that wages are consumption.

If we keep pushing wages down (and they are per capita as a percent of GDP half that of 1973) consumption expcpt by State debt will drop the country will get poorer and either implode, become totalitarian or Social Democratic. And yes some people will do great, most won't and quantity has a quality of its own

Also as to what Rahul said, we all have to stop asking for cheap labor. Its bad for everyone, The only cheap labor we need is maybe young minors whose living expenses are being subsidized by the parents,. Otherwise, we need to ge wages up so people can buy the stuff we make and the prvate sector can solve the problems instead of the state. If we don't find a way to do this (and its not simple) you are effectivly asking for bigger government

And at the end of all this discussion I doubt that anyone has changed his mind. If you are the exception, please...reply.

I'm not a libertarian but I'm sort of surprised that so many commenters are not questioning this research. In my experience libertarians are skeptical of social science research.
I stumbled upon this post by accident when I was googling around for something else and I am not a reader of this blog. I happen to have the 2012 GSS open in Stata 13 right now!
Most importantly I suspect that there are serious problems of confounding aka ommited variable bias with this analysis. I'm sure there is a literature which looks at attitudes towards each element of the libertarian scale mentioned in the paper (though perhaps not all in the same paper). I strongly doubt that scholars which study something like attitudes towards freedom of speech have found that being born in the US versus not being born in the US is a strong predictor. I would expect a full analysis to at least include predictors variables for standard socio-demographics (race, gender, age, education, income, maybe marital status and whether or not they have children) and political ideology.

Secondly, I have more theoretical problems with this paper that I believe are even more serious. The variable BORN comes from a question which asks people whether they were born in the U.S. or not. In my view there are problems with this operationalization. First, some people may have been born in another country but were the children of U.S. citizens. This is probably pretty rare. More problematically, people likely immigrated to the US at very different ages. Presumably, the length of time a person has spent in the U.S. should be very important. I'm not sure if the GSS has a variable for this....

All in all I wouldn't read too much into this research. Because of the large sample size of the GSS I could take any number of categorical variables, run chi-2 tests, and get something statistically significant. For example, I just did a chi2 test for a variable which asks people about their understanding of lasers and their attitudes towards abortion and p=.000. This research is perhaps not quite as ridiculous, but I believe it suffers from serious problems of omitted variable bias and poor operationalization.

The political effects of this are already being seen. Look at Northern Virginia. Asian immigrants, who Republicans believe, should be rightfully a Republican constituency vote Democratic at a higher rate than Hispanics. As a result Northern Virginia has become a very Democratic place.

My theory is that immigrants come from places with far more dysfunctional governments than the United States and do not relate to the local Republican decrying the sweeping tyranny of government. The immigrants like responsive and honest police departments, smaller class sizes and other benefits they did not have in their local countries and do not relate to the libertarian, freedom agenda which emphasizes the evils of said government. Immigrants are also less likely to be members of the religious right,

It is worth considering libertarian values may be widely held among children of red states and other republican-raised young adults (not sure the actual numbers and don't have time to check because I'm at work). It may become more evident in the future as millenials take a larger role that successful, republican baby boomers unknowingly churned out a large amount of successful, libertarian millenials with a lot of pull in DC. This could be driven by a combination of their parents values (smaller govt) and open, more reality based news sources (socially liberal). Just a thought, but interested to hear any other opinions.

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