Our article is now properly published at Migration Studies. Not satisfied that “threat” and “competition” with foreigners is typically reduced to a measure of education (!), we sought a realistic measure of competition. So we examine the relationship between the share of foreigners at the occupational level — a much more relevant unit of analysis than education levels or the share of foreigners in a geographical unit — and negative attitudes to immigrants. We use objective measures of pressures in the labour-market: the unemployment rate in one’s occupation. At this stage, we find support for “threat” in that a higher share of immigrants is associated with more negative attitudes.
But we didn’t stop there. We find that this relationship can probably be accounted for by sorting on job quality — particularly the association with objective pressures. This sorting is a consequence of selective migration policies, but we also show that the association between the occupational share of foreigners and attitudes decreases for workers with better job prospects: This implies that workers welcome foreigners to overcome labour market shortages. Put differently, we show that workers seem to react to immigrants in a nuanced way.
Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘A Foreigner Who Does Not Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes toward Equal Opportunities’. International Migration Review 50 (3): 628–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12162.
———. 2020. ‘Occupational Exposure to Foreigners and Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities’. Migration Studies 8 (3): 382–423. https://doi.org/10.1093/migration/mnz006.
I’m happy to announce a new publication in ECPR’s open access Political Research Exchange (PRX).
In the article, I ask whether we need multiple questions to capture feeling threatened by immigrants. The answer is: it depends what you want to achieve. In many cases, the answers is ‘no’ — a single question or scale is enough to capture who is more opposed to immigrants. In other cases, however, we need the subtle differences in attitudes to different groups and thus ‘yes’ — multiple questions.
I use 24 different questions on potential neighbours to systematically vary the characteristics of immigrants in a representative survey in Switzerland, 2013. Respondents systematically consider immigrants from distant cultures and those more likely to receive welfare benefits as more threatening. At the same time, those who feel threatened by one kind of immigrants also tend to feel threatened by others. Questions about immigrants in the generic sense likely capture the right correlates, but they may miss differences in the level of threat evoked by different immigrants.
In some ways, this is a follow-up to my article in JEMS where I applied theories on attitudes to immigrants developed in Western countries to a non-Western country: South Africa. There I showed that research on attitudes to immigrants appears to generalize to non-Western contexts. These are validity checks for our theories, testing what we typically assume.
The article in PRX is open access and comes with open code (a.k.a. replication material) and open data.
Ruedin, Didier. 2020. ‘Do We Need Multiple Questions to Capture Feeling Threatened by Immigrants?’ Political Research Exchange 2 (1): 1758576. https://doi.org/10.1080/2474736X.2020.1758576.
Ruedin, Didier. 2019. ‘Attitudes to Immigrants in South Africa: Personality and Vulnerability’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 45 (7): 1108–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2018.1428086.