Videos on Successful Immigrants

Research by my colleagues Rosita Fibbi, Robin Stünzi, Agota Sanislo, and Philipp Schnell on pathways to success is now available via video (in French and German). The research was supported by Fondation Mercator Suisse. The research shows immigrants overcoming their disadvantaged background to successfully integrate into work.

Skills, Education, and Attitudes to Foreigners

Re-reading some classics in the study of attitudes to foreigners or immigrants, it hit me how often we still rely on education when we mean skills. While education and skills tend to be correlated to some degree, the two are not quite the same. It is then surprising to see how many contributions rely on education when their theory of competitive threat and material interests really is about skills. Yes, often we only have education in the survey data we rely on, and indeed the results may indeed be similar irrespective of whether we use education or skills, but shouldn’t we be a bit more careful with the conclusions we draw when all we use are proxies? (especially when we rely on average levels of education, continue to make the assumption that all immigrants are low-skilled, or when we assume that respondent have a typical immigrant in mind when we ask about “immigrants” in the generic sense in a survey, rather than say asylum seekers).

Blinder, Scott. 2015. ‘Imagined Immigration: The Impact of Different Meanings of “Immigrants” in Public Opinion and Policy Debates in Britain’. Political Studies 63 (1): 80–100. doi:10.1111/1467-9248.12053.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2015. ‘A Foreigner Who Does Not Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes toward Equal Opportunities’. International Migration Review Early View: 1–53. doi:10.1111/imre.12162.

Economic Downturn = Racist Attitudes

A new paper by David W. Johnston and Grace Lordan shows that self-declared attitudes towards people of other races are more negative during economic downturns (when unemployment is higher). This finding is reminiscent to what Marco Pecoraro and I found with regard to attitudes towards foreigners. While we did not make the link to the context and unemployment levels, our analysis demonstrates that the self-declared risk of unemployment is related to negative attitudes towards foreigners.

Now negative attitudes are not the same as discriminatory behaviour. Interestingly, in our meta-analysis of correspondence tests we found no systematic link between the economic situation and discrimination in the labour market. This would suggest that the impact of the economy is only indirect — or that we’re not doing good enough a job in capturing what’s going on.

Johnston, David W., and Grace Lordan. 2015. ‘Racial Prejudice and Labour Market Penalties during Economic Downturns.’ European Economic Review. doi:10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.07.011.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2015. ‘A Foreigner Who Doesn’t Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities.’ International Migration Review, 1–53. doi:10.1111/imre.12162.

Zschirnt, Eva and Ruedin, Didier, Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990-2015 (April 22, 2015). Available at SSRN:

Attitudes towards Immigrants Over Time and Contexts

I’m happy to announce a new project on attitudes towards immigrants funded by the SNIS (hiring soon). In collaboration with Tobias Müller, Eva Green, Sergi Pardos-Prado, and Marco Pecoraro, we’re going to examine individual level attitudes towards immigrants and foreigners across time and contexts. The project will examine three related research areas — the role of neighbourhoods in shaping attitudes, socialisation, and the stability or persistence of attitudes. With that, we hope to clarify the relationship between individual background, context, and negative attitudes towards foreigners.

This project is financed by the Swiss Network for International Studies.