Now published in Migration Studies: Higher share of immigrants in one’s occupation = more negative attitudes

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.

Attitudes against Foreigners in Switzerland

In a new survey we asked a representative sample of the Swiss population the degree they felt threatened by a series of neighbours. About a third reported no threat by any kind of immigrant neighbour we asked. Another third of the respondents indicted only mild discomfort, while the remaining third indicated considerable degrees of threat.

The stated threat by immigrants from the European Union was negligible and roughly on par with that by people from another region in Switzerland. By contrast, considerably more threat was reported for potential neighbours from South-Eastern Europe (Albania, Kosovo, Turkey).