English title: Ethnic Diversity in European Welfare States: Contact and Conflict

Author(s): Maureen A. Eger - Nate Breznau -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2014


As rapidly as immigrants and their descendants are populating western European welfare states, scholars are attempting to assess immigration's impact on political economies, evidenced by an explosion of research on the relationships among ethnic diversity, anti-immigrant sentiment, social spending and welfare policy preferences. Electoral gains by neo-nationalist parties, neo-liberal pressures in the post-'golden age' of the welfare state, and the recent economic crisis have led some to predict that the European coordinated marked economies will continue to implement austerity measures and adopt characteristics of the liberal market economies. Empirically these expectations derive from a conflict hypothesis, where immigration generated ethnic diversity leads to in-group and negative out-group biases and thus preferences for welfare retrenchment. However, there is a growing body of research that gives credence to a contacthypothesis, where increased contact between members of different ethnic groups leads to greater tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Therefore if ethnic diversity produces less anti-immigrant sentiment, one might expect increased support for social welfare policies. We test these competing hypotheses with a unique regional dataset merged with the European Social Survey (2008) and use structural equation models to examine the impact of exposure to diversity on welfare attitudes. Results reveal support for both hypotheses: contact and conflict are simultaneously at work. Ethnic diversity reduces anti-immigrant sentiment through contact, but it also decreases support of welfare policies through conflict; thus, diversity directly reduces support for welfare while indirectly increasing support for it.

Conference name: 21st International Conference of Europeanists

Location: Washington

Start date: Mar 14, 2014

Type: Paper

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