Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration

I am very happy to announce a second paper published from our SNIS project on attitudes to immigrants: “Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration” by Sergi Pardos-Prado and Carla Xena out now in AJPS. It develops some of the key tenets of the SNIS project to new levels and provides a clean application.

Similar to what Marco Pecoraro concluded when looking at the risk of unemployment, Sergi and Carla come to the conclusion that economic competition theories cannot be dismissed. Here they focus on skills specificity and the ability to avoid competition with immigrant workers, and highlight that highly educated people are not immune to anti-immigrant attitudes.

Pardos‐Prado, S., & Xena, C. (2018.). Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration. American Journal of Political Science, Online First.
Pecoraro, M., & Ruedin, D. (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), 628–666.

Workshop on Attitudes to Foreigners and Discrimination in the Labour Market, 20 March 2018 in Geneva

The workshop will take place at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) on 20 March 2018, Salle M3250, 9:00 to 17:30.


The workshop brings together researchers of the of the SNIS project Individual-Level Attitudes towards Immigrants over Time and across Contexts, the NCCR on the move, invited experts working on attitudes to foreigners and discrimination in the labour market, and members from international organizations and policy-makers. It serves as the final event of the SNIS project, to showcase cutting-edge work on these topics. The SNIS project combines theory from economics, sociology, social psychology, and political science to explain individual attitudes to foreigners, with a focus on panel data. We expect invited participants to present advanced work in progress, and provide the participants with networking opportunities. Each presenter will be asked to raise an explicit policy-relevant implication for discussion.


Eva Green (University of Lausanne), Gallya Lahav (Stony Brook University, New York), Sjoerdje van Heerden (University of Neuchâtel/European Commission), Elmar Schlueter (Justus-Liebig University Giessen), Veronica Preotu (University of Geneva), Sergi Pardos-Prado (University of Oxford), Valentina di Stasio (University of Utrecht), Bram Lancee (University of Amsterdam).


Workshop attendance is free of charge. Please send an e-mail to to register; places are limited.

Now Published: How attitudes towards immigrants are shaped by residential context

Sjoerdje van Heerden and I have just learned that our paper “How Attitudes towards Immigrants Are Shaped by Residential Context: The Role of Neighbourhood Dynamics, Immigrant Visibility, and Areal Attachment” is now available at Urban Studies. This is the first publication coming out of the SNIS project on attitudes to foreigners.

In the paper, we check whether we can find any evidence for the ‘defended neighbourhood’ thesis, using panel data from the Netherlands and fixed-effect models. It turns out, we find no evidence of such effects in the Netherlands in recent years. The analysis looks at how proportional changes in residential context are associated with changes in attitudes towards immigrants. Following the reasoning that the majority population need to perceive immigrants, we paid particular attention to immigrant visibility. What is more, the unit of analysis is the neighbourhood, as close as possible as people experience it. We have put a lot of thought in choosing the right level, and went with the four-digit postcodes in the Netherlands. From what we gather, this largely corresponds to the perception of neighbourhoods people have, and not an artificial unit that happens to be ‘available’ in the data.

Following the ‘defended neighbourhood’ hypothesis, we focus on proportional change, not absolute numbers as researchers typically do when using cross-sectional data. A larger change in the proportion of immigrant residents is associated with more positive views on immigrants among natives — not what a defended neighbourhood would look like. Indeed, it is particularly a change in the proportion of visible non-Western immigrants that is associated with changes in attitudes.

Heerden, Sjoerdje van, and Didier Ruedin. 2017. “How Attitudes towards Immigrants Are Shaped by Residential Context: The Role of Neighbourhood Dynamics, Immigrant Visibility, and Areal Attachment.” Urban Studies Online First.

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.