About the project
Why Do Immigrants Oppose Immigration? Comparing Economic, Cultural, and Contextual Explanations: Immigrants and individuals with immigrant background make up a growing political electorate in most European states. As a result, scholars are increasingly interested in understanding what kind of policy preferences resident immigrants hold, whether they diverge from native preferences and, if so, why. A particularly intriguing case concerns the question of whether resident immigrants support or oppose further immigration. While extensive studies in political psychology and political economy have investigated the drivers of immigration preferences among natives, research on resident immigrants has been scarce and has resulted in contradictory conclusions. For example, some authors argue that opposition to immigration is a result of resident immigrants’ cultural and political integration, i.e., the degree to which they have assimilated to natives’ immigration preferences. In contrast, others posit that opposition is driven rather by concerns about the impact of immigration on the economy and economic self-interest. Yet, to date, there remains a lack of comprehensive, causal evidence that would allow us to directly compare the relative explanatory power of different hypotheses.
Without adequate analysis of resident immigrants’ attitudes toward immigration, however, we will not understand to what degree immigrants share a notion of common fate with newcomers or perceive them as a threat. This not only constitutes a scholarly gap but also has practical political implications for immigrants’ ability to advocate for themselves, their voting behavior, and the governance of diverse societies. To remedy this gap, this research project combines observational and experimental evidence by surveying resident immigrants in Switzerland and analyzing to what extent economic concerns, national identity, and the political context shape preferences toward new immigrant admission. Specifically, the Research Project will employ a survey experiment in which the immigrant respondents are asked to evaluate different profiles of hypothetical prospective immigrants that vary in their economic and cultural characteristics.
This Research project, beginning in September 2019 through to February 2023, has been awarded a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
As demonstrated in a first pilot study funded by the IHEID Seed Grant, this method allows researchers to draw causal rather than merely associational conclusions and to directly compare the relative importance of different explanations for immigration attitudes. By connecting two different fields of social science – political behavior and immigrant integration studies – this Research project’s findings will reveal whether natives and resident immigrants are affected by immigration in the same ways or diverge in crucial aspects.
September 2019-September 2023
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)