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Conflicting Identities: Cosmopolitan or Anxious? Appreciating Concerns of Host Country Population Improves Attitudes Towards Immigrants

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  • Heidland (né Stöhr), Tobias

    (Kiel Institute for the World Economy)

  • Wichardt, Philipp

    (University of Rostock)

Abstract

This paper connects insights from the literature on cosmopolitan values in political science, anxiety in social psychology, and identity economics in a vignette-style experiment. We asked German respondents about their attitudes towards a Syrian refugee, randomizing components of his description (N=662). The main treatment describes the refugee as being aware of and empathetic towards potential Germans' worries about cultural change, costs and violence associated with refugee inflows. This increases reported levels of sympathy and trust substantially, especially for risk averse people. We argue that acknowledging concerns of the host population relieves the tension between an anxious and a cosmopolitan part of peoples' identities. When one aspect of identity is already acknowledged (expressing anxieties) it has less influence on actual behavior (expressing sympathy). In addition, we find that previous contact with foreigners and a higher willingness to take risks are important factors to determine an individual's willingness to interact with refugees.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidland (né Stöhr), Tobias & Wichardt, Philipp, 2019. "Conflicting Identities: Cosmopolitan or Anxious? Appreciating Concerns of Host Country Population Improves Attitudes Towards Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 12630, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12630
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Anthony Edo & Lionel Ragot & Hillel Rapoport & Sulin Sardoschau & Andreas Steinmayr, 2018. "The Effects of Immigration in Developed Countries: Insights from Recent Economic Research," CEPII Policy Brief 2018-22, CEPII research center.
    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. Anthony Edo & Lionel Ragot & Hillel Rapoport & Sulin Sardoschau & Andreas Steinmayr & Arthur Sweetman, 2020. "An introduction to the economics of immigration in OECD countries," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(4), pages 1365-1403, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    identity; integration; attitudes; immigration; refugees;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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