A Cross-National Analysis of Variations in Majority Members’ Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Are They Structurally Determined or Adaptable? Evidence from 18 European Countries in 2002 and 2014.

Angela Paparusso, Institute of research on population and social policies CNR-IRPPS
Michaela Šedovic, London School of Economics and Political Science

With rising numbers of immigrants living in Europe, the opportunities for majority members to be in contact with them increase. This contact may influence both attitudes towards immigrants (ATI) and immigrants’ chances to be integrated. ATI research including only individual explanatory variables explains a modest part of the differences among ATI, therefore, it is important to consider also the moderating effect of the changing environment in receiving countries, such as economic development and population composition.

The aim of this paper is to observe and explain (i) variations in majority members’ ATI among 18 European countries and (ii) their variation in a cross-temporal perspective, analysing the key elements forming them in 2002 and 2014.

Our focus is on the effect of intergroup contact – because the share of population with immigrant background has changed during observed time – and the economic situation. The innovation of this paper is the simultaneous observation of the effects of direct and indirect contact on ATI and the examination of their interactive effect. The focus on effects of the economic change stems from its complementarity with intergroup theory hypothesis and the availability of data that could be reliably used in a cross-country research.

We hypothesise, that with a greater share of immigrants, ATI were more likely to adapt to the changing environment and ATI were more dependent on individual explanatory variables. Complementary, we expect more stable ATI in countries with a smaller share of immigrants.

Data come from the European Social Survey. Two dependent variables will be operationalized as composite indexes measuring two dimensions of attitudes: towards immigrants and towards immigration. We will perform multilevel regression analysis with individual (demographic and socioeconomic variables, migrant friends and heterogeneity of neighbourhood), regional (unemployment rare) and national (unemployment and foreign-born population rates and index of similarity of populations) factors.

Presented in Session 39: Attitudes Towards Immigrants and Social Cohesion