Pecoraro, M. & Ruedin, D. (2013). A foreigner who doesn’t steal my job: The role of unemployment risk and values in attitudes towards foreigners. FORS Working Paper Series, paper 2013-5. Lausanne: FORS.A different version of this paper has meanwhile been published as :
Pecoraro, M., & Ruedin, D. (2015). A foreigner who does not steal my job: The role of unemployment risk and values in attitudes toward equal opportunities. International Migration Review, 50(3), 628-666.
Immigration, attitudes towards foreigners, labour market competition, unemployment risk, values and beliefs
Over the past three decades, immigration has become systematically politicized by parties on the right, and opposed by many individuals in society. Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain variation in the opposition to immigration among the population. Economic arguments highlight the competition between native workers and immigrants over limited resources. Sociological arguments underline additional factors like values and beliefs. Using cross-sectional data from the Swiss Household Panel 1999, we account for non-linearity in educational attainment, and consider relative risk to unemployment – and how these two variables interact. We examine individual attitudes towards equal opportunities for foreigners and Swiss citizens. Here we show that individuals with low levels of education tend to oppose equal opportunities for foreigners, while for individuals with high levels of education such opposition can be observed with increasing unemployment risk. Our analysis demonstrates that values and beliefs can account for the negative attitudes of individuals with low levels of education. The association with unemployment risk for individuals with high levels of education, by contrast, is robust to this control for values and beliefs. It becomes clear that attitudes towards equal opportunities for immigrants are not a simple reaction to changes in the demographic composition of the labour force. Both values and economic factors play a central role.
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