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Conflicting identities: Cosmopolitan or anxious? Appreciating concerns of host country population improves attitudes towards immigrants

Author

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  • Stöhr, Tobias
  • Wichardt, Philipp C.

Abstract

Cosmopolitan or anxious? In order to test the influence of conflicting aspects of identity, German respondents were asked about their attitude towards a Syrian refugee the description of whom was varied in various domains (N=662). Once the refugee is described as being aware of as well as open towards concerns in the German population - regarding cultural change, arising costs and increasing violence - reported levels of sympathy and trust increase substantially, especially for risk averse people. Additional data from a second questionnaire (N=118) show that a German person expressing such concerns is perceived as less cosmopolitan and more likely to vote for the emergent populist right-wing. Combining these findings, we argue that acknowledging concerns of the host population relieves the tension between the anxious and cosmopolitan part of peoples' identities and, therefore, allows them to respond more openly since an aspect of identity that is acknowledged by context (expressing anxieties) has less influence on actual behavior (expressing sympathy). Apart from that, we find that personal experience and the higher willingness to take risks are important for the individual willingness to interact. Our findings highlight the importance of context, identity and individual characteristics for host populations' attitudes towards of refugees.

Suggested Citation

  • Stöhr, Tobias & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2016. "Conflicting identities: Cosmopolitan or anxious? Appreciating concerns of host country population improves attitudes towards immigrants," Kiel Working Papers 2045, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:2045
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jan-Erik Lönnqvist & Markku Verkasalo & Gari Walkowitz & Philipp C. Wichardt, 2011. "Measuring Individual Risk Attitudes in the Lab: Task or Ask?: An Empirical Comparison," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 370, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik & Verkasalo, Markku & Walkowitz, Gari & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2015. "Measuring individual risk attitudes in the lab: Task or ask? An empirical comparison," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 254-266.
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    5. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00618060 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Identity; Immigration; Integration; Migration; Refugees;

    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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