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Dragana Avramov and Robert Cliquet (2007)

Xenophobia and Integration of Immigrants – Attitudes of Europeans towards Foreigners

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 32, 3-4/2007, p. 533-560, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

The authors present the key findings from the analysis of data on the viewpoints of nationals towards immigration and integration of foreigners and relate these views to the socio-demographic features of the respondents, and to the attitudes towards demographic behaviour, and general population trends in eight European countries. The analysis is based on the migration module from the Population Policy Acceptance Survey (PPAS) undertaken in the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, and Finland between 2000 and 2003.

Selected key findings are presented in the form of parsimonious answers to the following research questions: How accurately is the number of foreigners assessed by citizens? Do people think that there are too many immigrants? Is the presence of foreigners perceived more frequently as an asset or as a burden? Is immigration perceived as a remedy for shrinking populations? What are the perceptions of the labour market advantages and disadvantages of immigration? Is cultural diversity favoured? What is the meaning of integration? Which policy measures towards foreigners and integration of migrants are being favoured? Is immigration perceived in the context of overall demographic processes? Is there a relation between attitudes towards migration and gender issues? Are attitudes towards ageing and elderly related to attitudes towards immigrants? How are attitudes towards immigrants related to satisfaction and general values in life?

Our analysis shows that that the general population climate which creates the framework conditions for acceptance and integration of immigrants is marked in all the countries by fear of foreigners, more particularly as competitors in the labour market, which is expressed by large proportions of citizens in all countries. Country is the most important differentiating factor for prevalence of xenophobic attitudes. A dividing line exists between Eastern and Western countries, the former displaying higher proportions of people with negative attitudes towards immigrants, cultural diversity and integration, than the latter. Among the personal characteristics of the respondents education is the most important differentiating factor both for the prevalence of positive and negative attitudes. People with a weaker social capital or economic situation are more prone to fears of the economic competition perceived to come from foreigners resident in their country.

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