English title: When the Going Gets Tough: The Differential Impact of National Unemployment on the Perceived Threats of Immigration

Author(s): Henning Finseraas - Axel West Pedersen - Ann-Helén Bay -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2016


Economic competition theory predicts that anti-immigration sentiments will increase in periods with high unemployment, in particular among low-skilled workers. Using five rounds of cross-sectional data from the European Social Survey and utilising the rise in unemployment in many European countries due to the financial crisis, this article provides a more effective empirical test of interest-based theories than previous studies. It employs hierarchical, two-stage regression techniques to estimate the relationship between aggregate unemployment rates and immigration opinion, and explores whether the relationship differs according to respondent's level of education. It is found that high unemployment rates are associated with a high level of economic concern over immigration – particularly if the size of the foreign-born population is large. The relationship is stronger among the low skilled, implying a tendency for polarisation of opinions about immigration in economic recessions. Finally, it is discovered that the general level of cultural concern over immigration is unrelated to variation in unemployment.

Volume: 64

Issue: 1

From page no: 60

To page no: 73

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1111/1467-9248.12162

Journal: Political Studies

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