Comparative European Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 264–281

Public Opinion on Immigration in Western Europe: Economics, Tolerance, and Exposure

  • Jason E Kehrberg
Original Article

Abstract

Several studies of cross-national attitudes on immigration use a theory of self-interest that focuses upon the relative size of the immigrant group and the economic situation of the survey respondent. Kunovich wrote that attitudes can also be shaped by national economics, political structure, and culture. This study examines the influences of national economics and one factor of culture: political tolerance. I build upon previous explanations of public attitudes on immigration in two ways. First, I add to the current knowledge concerning the influence of the national economy on attitudes by including estimates of economic wealth and growth. Second, I examine the influence of political tolerance on attitudes on immigration. This study uses ordered probit to examine data from the 1997 Eurobarometer survey. The results show that both economic and political tolerance influence public opinion on immigration. Therefore, attitudes are shaped by numerous factors beyond self-interest economic theories, including the health of the national economy and political tolerance.

Keywords

public opinion immigration political tolerance exposure economics 

References

  1. Betz, H.-G. (2001) ‘Exclusionary populism in Austria, Italy, and Switzerland’, International Journal 56 (3): 393–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bobo, L. and Licari, F.C. (1989) ‘Education and political tolerance: testing the effects of cognitive sophistication and target group affect’, The Public Opinion Quarterly 53 (3): 285–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brox, O. (1972) Strukturfacismen ock andraessaer, Stockholm: Prisma.Google Scholar
  4. Gaasholt, O. and Togeby, L. (1995) ‘Interethnic tolerance, education, and political orientation: evidence from Denmark’, Political Behavior 17 (3): 265–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gibson, J.L. (1992) ‘The political consequences of intolerance: cultural conformity and political freedom’, The American Political Science Review 86 (2): 338–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gibson, J.L. and Anderson, A.J. (1985) ‘The political implications of elite and mass tolerance’, Political Behavior 7 (2): 118–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Golder, M. (2003) ‘Explaining variation in the success of extreme right parties in Western Europe’, Comparative Political Studies 36 (4): 432–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Golebiowska, E.A. (1995) ‘Individual value priorities, education, and political tolerance’, Political Behavior 17 (1): 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Golebiowska, E.A. (1996) ‘The ‘pictures in our heads’ and individual-targeted tolerance’, The Journal of Politics 58 (4): 1010–1034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hernes, G. and Knudsen, K. (1992) ‘Norwegians' attitudes toward new immigrants’, Acta Sociologica 35: 123–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Inglehart, R. (1997) Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Kessler, A.E. and Freeman, G.P. (2005) ‘Public opinion in the EU on immigration from outside the community’, Journal of Common Market Studies 43 (4): 825–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kunovich, R.M. (2004) ‘Social structural position and prejudice: an exploration of cross-national differences in regression slopes’, Social Science Research 33: 20–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lahav, G. (2004) Immigration and Politics in the New Europe: Reinventing Borders, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lewis-Beck, M.S. (1986) ‘Comparative economic voting: Britain, France, Germany, Italy’, American Journal of Political Science 30 (2): 315–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lewis-Beck, M.S. and Stegmaier, M. (2006) ‘Economic Models of the Vote’, in R. Dalton and H.-D. Klingemann (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Lubbers, M., Gijsberts, M. and Scheepers, P. (2002) ‘Extreme right-wing voting in Western Europe’, European Journal of Political Research 41: 345–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mayer, N. (2002) Ces Francais qui votent Le Pen, Paris: Flammarion.Google Scholar
  19. McLaren, L.M. (2003) ‘Anti-immigrant prejudice in Europe: contact, threat perception, and preferences for the exclusion of migrants’, Social Forces 81 (3): 909–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Quillian, L. (1995) ‘Prejudice as a response to perceived group threat: population composition and anti-Immigrant and racial prejudice in Europe’, American Sociological Review 60 (4): 586–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Runchiman, W.G. (1966) Relative Deprivation and Social Justice, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  22. Scheepers, P., Gijsberts, M. and Coenders, M. (2002) ‘Ethnic exclusionism in European countries: public opposition to civil rights for legal migrants as a response to perceived ethnic threat’, European Sociological Review 18 (1): 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sniderman, P.M., Tetlock, P.E., Glaser, J.M., Green, D.P. and Hout, M. (1989) ‘Principled tolerance and the American mass public’, British Journal of Political Science 19 (1): 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sniderman, P.M., Hagendoorn, L. and Prior, M. (2004) ‘Predisposing factors and situational triggers: exclusionary reactions to immigrant minorities’, American Political Science Review 98 (1): 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sullivan, J.L., Piereson, J.E. and Marcus, G.E. (1982) Political Tolerance and American Democracy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Weldon, S.A. (2006) ‘The institutional context of tolerance for ethnic minorities: a comparative, multi-level analysis of Western Europe’, American Journal of Political Science 50 (2): 331–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zolberg, A.R. (1991) ‘Bounded States in A Global Market: The Uses of International Labor Migrations’, in P. Bourdieu and J.S. Coleman (eds.) Social Theory for a Changing Society, Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason E Kehrberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations