English title: The relationship between ethnic threat and economic insecurity in times of economic crisis: Analysis of European Social Survey data

Author(s): Jaak Billiet - Bart Meuleman - Hans De Witte -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2014


This study analyses the relationships between deteriorating economic conditions in times of crisis and the attitude towards immigration. We analyze three questions. How are a vulnerable position on the labor market and recent changes in the individuals’ economic condition related to perceived ethnic threat? What is the role of the nation’s economic and immigration context? Are relations at the individual level between economic conditions and perceived ethnic threat affected by context variables? Data of 23 country sample of ESS round 5 (end 2010-begin 2011) is used. At the micro level, unemployment, job insecurity, and income deterioration during past three years affect perceived ethnic threat, as predicted by group conflict theory. These effects are however rather small. Among the context variables, only Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth shows an effect in the expected direction: perceived threat seems higher in countries in which GDP growth is lower. Our design however does not allow to conclude that changes in the economic context lead to changes in attitudes towards immigrants. The significant cross-level interaction for economic growth indicates that the threat-inducing effect of unemployment is stronger in contexts where GDP growth is high. This finding contradicts our hypothesis. One could explain this by the emergence of a generalized feeling of economic insecurity in countries severely hit by the economic crisis. In these countries, strong feelings of economic insecurity – and the resulting levels of perceived ethnic threat - might be also be present among those who are employed, thereby diminishing the gap with the unemployed.

Volume: 2

Issue: 2

From page no: 135

To page no: 161

Refereed: Yes


Journal: Migration Studies

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