The issue of immigration is highly salient to citizens of industrialised democracies. Globalisation and the emergence of an international human rights regime, among other reasons, led to high levels of immigration to industrialised countries in recent decades. Immigrant-receiving states have shown only limited ability to control the size and composition of their immigrant population. Immigration has therefore emerged as a prominent political issue in practically all economically developed countries, and there are raising concerns over anti-immigration sentiments and nationalist tendencies that seem to be taking hold among modern publics. We argue that anti-immigration attitudes are not merely a response to increased immigration, but rather that these attitudes mirror governments’ nationalistic and anti-immigration stance. In addition, people who are interested in politics are expected to be more influenced by their governments’ policies than those who show less interest. We use data from the European Social Survey and the Comparative Manifesto Project to test these claims. Results from our multilevel models show that people living in countries where the government is right wing are more opposed to immigration than people living in countries where the government exhibits less right-wing tendencies. The effect of government policy positions is also found to be conditioned by political interest at the individual level.
Is diversity associated with ethnic aversion? To address this issue we employ a theoretical perspective to explain global patterns in individual ethnic attitudes. We suggest that there is a turning point of tolerance, and this could be why earlier studies differ in their conclusions. In short, we argue that up until a certain point more intergroup contact will lead to increased tolerance. However, when this threshold is reached, any further diversity will lead to less tolerance. This study applies data from all five waves of the World Values Survey, combined with the updated ethnolinguistical fractionalisation index and relevant controls. Our models reveal a threshold effect in non-Western societies, and that ethnically polarised societies are most tolerant. This finding supports the argument that conflicts taking place along ethnic lines are not caused primarily by ethnic hatred, indicating that ethnicity might be used as an instrument to create violent conflict.
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.