Working Paper

Physical Insecurity and Anti-Immigration Views in Western Europe

Published 1 January 2012 / By Mihail Chiru, Sergiu Gherghina

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This article assesses the effect of feelings of physical insecurity on the perceived consequences of immigration and the preferred level of restriction in this policy area. Our comparative analysis uses individual level and country level data for 12 Western European countries. Our statistical analyses indicate significant effects both at pooled level and in most of the separate tests conducted on national samples. Overall, a switch in physical insecurity from the minimal to the maximal level decreases the preference for liberal immigration policies by 7.4% and increases the negative evaluations of the immigration consequences by 8.3%. The findings also emphasize the importance of social alienation, radical-right partisanship, and of ‘tough on crime’ attitudes on the formation of anti-immigration opinions. The cross-country variation in the main effect is partially explained by the size of the immigration community, unemployment rates and the change in GDP real growth.


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