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What determines attitudes to immigration in European countries? An analysis at the regional level


  • Markaki, Yvonni
  • Longhi, Simonetta


Different disciplines within the social sciences have produced large theoretical and empirical literatures to explain the determinants of anti-immigration attitudes. We bring together these literatures in a unified framework and identify testable hypotheses on what characteristics of the individual and of the local environment are likely to have an impact on anti-immigration attitudes. Most of the previous literature focuses on the explanation of attitudes at the individual level. When cross country comparisons are involved the heterogeneity across countries is modelled by fixed or random effects in multilevel models. We analyse anti-immigration attitudes across regions of 24 European countries to explain why people living in different regions differ in terms of their attitudes towards immigration. We isolate the impact of the region from regressions using individual-level data and explain this residual regional heterogeneity in attitudes with aggregate level indicators of regional characteristics. We find that regions with a higher percentage of immigrants born outside the EU and a higher unemployment rate among the immigrant population show a higher probability that natives express negative attitudes to immigration. Regions with a higher unemployment rate among natives however, show less pronounced anti-immigrant attitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • Markaki, Yvonni & Longhi, Simonetta, 2012. "What determines attitudes to immigration in European countries? An analysis at the regional level," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-25, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2012-25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simonetta Longhi & Peter Nijkamp & Jacques Poot, 2005. "A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Effect of Immigration on Wages," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 451-477, July.
    2. Correia, Mark E., 2010. "Determinants of attitudes toward police of Latino immigrants and non-immigrants," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 99-107, January.
    3. Loris Vezzali & Dino Giovannini, 2011. "Intergroup contact and reduction of explicit and implicit prejudice toward immigrants: a study with Italian businessmen owning small and medium enterprises," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 213-222, January.
    4. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2001. "Attitudes to Ethic Minorities, Ethnic Context and Location Decisions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 353-373, April.
    5. Markaki, Yvonni, 2012. "Sources of anti-immigration attitudes in the United Kingdom: the impact of population, labour market and skills context," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-24, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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    8. Francisco Herreros & Henar Criado, 2009. "Social Trust, Social Capital and Perceptions of Immigration," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 57, pages 337-355, June.
    9. Catalina Amuedo‐Dorantes & Thitima Puttitanun, 2011. "Gender Differences In Native Preferences Toward Undocumented And Legal Immigration: Evidence From San Diego," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(1), pages 31-45, January.
    10. Bell, Brian & Nickell, Stephen & Quintini, Glenda, 2002. "Wage equations, wage curves and all that," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 341-360, July.
    11. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2007. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 399-442, April.
    12. István Kónya, 2005. "Minorities and majorities: a dynamic model of assimilation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1431-1452, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Economidou, Claire & Karamanis, Dimitris & Kechrinioti, Alexandra & Xesfingi, Sofia, 2017. "What Shapes Europeans’ Attitudes toward Xeno-philia(/phobia)?," MPRA Paper 76511, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Hansen, Ole-Petter Moe & Legge, Stefan, 2017. "Quantifying Determinants of Immigration Preferences," Economics Working Paper Series 1710, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    3. Hatton, Timothy J., 2014. "Public Opinion on Immigration: Has the Recession Changed Minds?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10008, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Calahorrano Lena & an de Meulen Philipp, 2015. "The Interdependence of Immigration Restrictions and Expropriation Risk," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 2047-2077, October.
    5. Gisela Waisman & Birthe Larsen, 2016. "Income, amenities and negative attitudes," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-32, December.
    6. Slobodan Djajić & Michael S. Michael, 2014. "International Migration of Skilled Workers with Endogenous Policies," IHEID Working Papers 09-2014, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    7. Kevin Denny & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "Immigration, Asylum, and Gender: Ireland and Beyond," Working Papers 201604, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    8. Marisa Hidalgo, 2015. "Poverty in adulthood: personal and context factors. Evidence from some European countries," Working Papers 15.14, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    9. Kristyn Frank & Feng Hou & Grant Schellenberg, 2016. "Life Satisfaction Among Recent Immigrants in Canada: Comparisons to Source-Country and Host-Country Populations," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1659-1680, August.
    10. Braakmann Nils & Wildman John & Waqas Muhammad, 2017. "Are Immigrants in Favour of Immigration? Evidence from England and Wales," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 1-16, February.
    11. Ole-Petter Moe Hansen & Stefan Legge, 2016. "Drawbridges Down: Altruism and Immigration Preferences," CESifo Working Paper Series 6204, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R19 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Other

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