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How people perceive immigrants' role in their country's life: a comparative study of Estonia and Russia




  • Olga Demidova



In addition to traditional growth models, 3T (Technology, Talent, Tolerance) approach, initially proposed by Richard Florida, has gained popularity since the beginning of the 21st century in explaining determinants of economic growth and development. This approach emphasizes the important role of technology, talent and tolerance in attracting and retaining diverse people and thereby creating new challenges for economic growth. In our paper, people's attitudes towards immigrants are considered as proxies of tolerance to ethnically diverse population as possible precondition for future economic growth. Interesting cases for analysing people's attitudes towards immigrants are provided by two neighbour countries Estonia and Russia - the countries with post-socialist path-dependence and ethnically diverse population. The share of minorities in the total population is remarkable in both countries - around one third in Estonia and one fifth in Russia. Thus, these countries have favourable preconditions for economic development as well as threats that due to the weak integration policy, social and political tensions will increase and as a consequence business environment become worse. The paper aims to conduct a comparative analysis of possible determinants of peoples' attitudes towards immigrants in Estonia and Russia mainly focusing on the examining the role of individual's socio-demographic and economic characteristic in forming their attitudes towards immigrants. The overwhelming aim of the study is to elaborate empirical evidence-based grounds for policy proposals that through favourable business environment can support economic growth and development. The empirical part of the paper relies on information provided in the European Social Survey (ESS) fifth round database and on implementing the methodological framework that includes principal component factor analysis and microeconometric methods. The results of the study show that on average the attitudes towards immigrants are lower in both Estonia and Russia than in the European countries with advanced economies. Estonian peoples' attitudes towards immigrants are somewhat better in all aspects of country's life - economy, culture and country as a living place, comparing to Russia. Ethnic minorities, people with higher income and religious people are more tolerant to immigrants in both countries. Unemployed people are less tolerant towards immigrants only in the case of Russia not of Estonia. Surprisingly, better education improves attitudes towards immigrants in Estonia but does not have any statistically significant relation to the attitudes towards immigrants in all monitored aspects - economy, culture and country as living place in Russia.

Suggested Citation

  • TIIU PAAS & Olga Demidova, 2013. "How people perceive immigrants' role in their country's life: a comparative study of Estonia and Russia," ERSA conference papers ersa13p569, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p569

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tiiu PAAS & Vivika HALAPUU, 2012. "Attitudes towards immigrants and the integration of ethnically diverse societies," Eastern Journal of European Studies, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 3, pages 161-176, December.
    2. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "From individual attitudes towards migrants to migration policy outcomes: Theory and evidence," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 651-713, October.
    3. Sanoussi Bilal & Jean-Marie Grether & Jaime de Melo, 2015. "Attitudes Towards Immigration: A Trade Theoretic Approach," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Developing Countries in the World Economy, chapter 18, pages 439-453 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. David Card & Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston, 2005. "Understanding attitudes to immigration: The migration and minority module of the first European Social Survey," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0503, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    5. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda, 2012. "Individual Attitudes Towards Skilled Migration: An Empirical Analysis Across Countries," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 183-196, February.
    6. Malchow-Møller, Nikolaj & Roland Munch, Jakob & Schroll, Sanne & Rose Skaksen, Jan, 2006. "Attitudes Towards Immigration: Does Economic Self-Interest Matter?," Working Papers 11-2006, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
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    8. Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz & Tommaso Frattini, 2008. "The labour market impact of immigration," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 478-495, Autumn.
    9. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Sinnott, Richard, 2006. "The determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 838-861, December.
    10. Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda & Mariapia Mendola, 2013. "What Drives Individual Attitudes towards Immigration in South Africa?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 326-341, May.
    11. Dustmann, Christian & Frattini, Tommaso, 2011. "Immigration: The European Experience," IZA Discussion Papers 6261, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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