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Explaining the Link between Austerity and Immigration in the European Union: The Role of Attitudes

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European societies have experienced recent surges in immigration, particularly in the form of refugees and asylum-seekers, in the years following the Arab Spring. At the same time, we can observe

European societies have experienced recent surges in immigration, particularly in the form of refugees and asylum-seekers, in the years following the Arab Spring. At the same time, we can observe a substantial implementation of austerity policies in the European Union following the European Debt Crisis since the end of 2009. In this study, I investigate the correlation between attitudes towards austerity policies and attitudes towards immigration. I hypothesize that individuals who report being disinterested regarding austerity policy will be more positive towards future immigration from outside of the EU while those who report being concerned with austerity policies will be more adverse towards such future immigration. To explain cross-country differences, I use group threat theory, which explains that, larger inflows of immigration combined with challenging economic conditions impose a perceived threat on the host society, resulting in more negative attitudes towards immigration. I plan to analyze data from the Eurobarometer 82.3 (Standard Eurobarometer) social survey (2014) to study the results of my hypotheses within a cross-section of time. My findings largely confirm my hypotheses, though the individual-level results draw a weak correlation between austerity, nationalism, and attitudes towards immigration.

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  • 2016-12