The issue of immigration is becoming increasingly salient, and has emerged as a prominent political matter in the Scandinavian countries. Using multilevel modelling employing data from the statistical bureaus of Denmark, Norway and Sweden in combination with the latest round of the European Social Survey, the link between the percentage of immigrants in a region and individual’s level of ethnic tolerance is examined. Most previous comparative studies of attitudes toward immigration have used European countries as level-2 units. We apply a new approach, investigating immigration at the regional level in these three fairly similar societies. Our findings show that regional diversity is associated with higher tolerance which is in accordance with intergroup contact theory. The relatively small size of immigrant populations together with the presence of post-materialistic values due to a relatively high standard of living makes the Scandinavian countries less receptive to mechanisms associated with group threat theory.
According to OECD (2011) non-EU foreigners account for 61.5, 54, and 68 per cent of total foreign born in Sweden, Norway and Denmark respectively. Similar statistics including persons with foreign born parents is unfortunately not available.