Anti-immigrant Sentiment and Welfare State Regimes in Europe (Working Paper #178)

Xavier Escandell, University of Northern Iowa

Alin M. Ceobanu, University of Florida

Abstract: This paper examines whether the stand-alone and cross-level interactive effects of individual and contextual predicting variables of anti-immigrant sentiment vary as a function of institutional differences in welfare regimes. Using data from the 2003 ISSP module, several direct and indirect measures tapping welfare state systems were created to assess the disparities in anti-immigrant sentiment across 22 Western and Eastern European countries. Results from the hierarchical multilevel models show that the mean levels of anti-immigrant sentiment are lower in those countries with high levels of public spending in social protection programs. The findings further indicate that an individual’s labor force status (being unemployed), nativism and conservatism political stance become even stronger predictors of anti-immigrant sentiment in countries with more robust welfare state systems. Moreover, the differences in the mean level of anti-immigrant sentiment between the two parts of the continent stay significant even after multiple controls at the micro and macro-levels. The implications of these findings are discussed from the perspective of the ethnic economic competition model, as well as by taking into account the converging trend in immigration policy among the member states of the European Union in recent years.

Working Paper #178