Theories on intergroup relations suggest that negative attitudes toward immigrants tend to rise when economic conditions deteriorate. However, these arguments were mostly tested during times of economic prosperity in Europe. We put this theoretical expectation to test by analyzing two rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS) with data from 14 West European immigration countries before (2006) and after (2010) the peak of the European economic crisis. Results show that anti-immigrant sentiments increased in countries where perceptions of economic insecurity also increased. Anti-immigrant sentiments decreased in countries where perceptions of economic insecurity declined. In contrast, changes in objective economic conditions (i.e. unemployment rates) during the same period of time did not display the expected effects in a similarly robust way.
- Anti-immigrant sentiments
- European Social Survey
- group threat theory
- subjective and objective economic conditions