Measuring attitudes towards immigration across Countries: Potential problems of functional equivalence in the ESS

English title: Measuring attitudes towards immigration across Countries: Potential problems of functional equivalence in the ESS

Author(s): Nina Rother -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2004

Abstract

This paper analyses the functional equivalence of attitudes towards immigration in internationally comparative research. Methods include secondary analysis of ESS 2002/2003 data (immigration module) and some preliminary cognitive tests. Data-analytical tools employed range from multidimensional scaling to variance-analytic procedures. The results show that some of the ESS measures might not be regarded as functionally equivalent. To know about attitudes towards immigration is essential not only for researchers but especially for politicians. Immigration plays a more and more important role in European societies nowadays, as can be seen in growing concerns of refugee issues or the importance to lower restrictions for highly skilled migrants that are needed in certain industries. In order to provide a knowledge base on attitudes towards immigration in Europe, a special module on attitudes towards immigration was included in the ESS round 1. However, attitudes towards immigration are not easy to measure and especially to compare across cultures. Different migration histories and policies in the different European countries make it hard to think of a shared understanding of what immigration and immigrants are. A cross-cultural comparison of attitudes towards immigration can only be done when functional equivalence is given, i.e. that the same construct is measured in all cultures. Hence, this has to be tested before analysing the data on the substantive level. Functional equivalence of data can be affected by three sources of biases: construct bias, method bias and item bias. In order to analyse the functional equivalence of ESS immigration attitudes measures two distinct analytical strategies are employed. The first is made up by a secondary analysis of the ESS 2002/2003 data. However, in many cases, evidence from secondary analysis is not conclusive and additional studies are needed, such as cognitive tests and split-ballot experiments. For this purpose, the results of some cognitive tests conducted in 2003/2004 are presented. Data-analytical tools employed range from multidimensional scaling to variance-analytic procedures. The results show that some of the ESS measures might not be regarded as functionally equivalent. Some possible solutions are outlined.

Conference name: Sixth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

Location: Amsterdam

Start date: Aug 16, 2004

Type: Paper

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