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Does Immigration Produce a Public Backlash or Public Acceptance? Time-Series, Cross-Sectional Evidence from Thirty European Democracies

Version 2 2022-06-29, 09:18
Version 1 2021-06-15, 10:20
journal contribution
posted on 2022-06-29, 09:18 authored by Christopher Claassen, Lauren McLaren

After decades of relatively high inflows of foreign nationals, immigration is now at the center of substantial political divisions in most European countries and has been implicated in one of the most vexing developments in European politics, the rise of the xenophobic right. However, it is not clear whether high levels of immigration actually do cause a public backlash, or whether publics become habituated to, and supportive of, immigration. This study tests these backlash and habituation theories using novel measures of immigration mood and immigration concern produced by combining over 4,000 opinion datapoints across twenty-nine years and thirty countries. The authors find evidence of a public backlash in the short to medium run, where mood turns negative and concern about immigration rises. Yet the study also finds evidence of a longer-run process of habituation that cancels out the backlash effect within one (concern) to three (mood) decades.

Funding

British Academy grant to Claassen and McLaren (project number SRG18R1\181191)

History

Citation

British Journal of Political Science , Volume 52 , Issue 3 , July 2022 , pp. 1013 - 1031

Author affiliation

School of History, Politics and International Relations

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

British Journal of Political Science

Volume

52

Issue

3

Pagination

1013-1031

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

issn

0007-1234

eissn

1469-2112

Acceptance date

2021-04-28

Copyright date

2021

Available date

2022-06-29

Language

en

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