We suggest including a battery of three items measuring attitudes towards immigration and immigrants. A number of recent publications points out the importance of immigration attitudes for explaining support for European integration (e.g., de Vreese & Boomgaarden, 2005, 2008; McLaren, 2002, 2007). Also, immigration attitudes are among the most important predictors of supporting (extreme-right) anti-EU parties and are generally an important variable in explanatory models of party choice (e.g., van der Brug, Fennema & Tillie, 2000). With immigration and immigrant integration being a topic at the focus of public and political debate, it seem particularly appropriate to include these items.
Moving beyond utilitarian, economy-related explanations of public support for European integration, it is now commonplace to acknowledge the importance of identity considerations and immigration opinions when predicting EU support (or Euroscepticism). Perceptions of immigrant out-groups appear to be strongly related to general EU support and support for EU enlargement and also are shown to partly mediate utilitarian considerations such as economic evaluations. Therefore any model explaining EU support in general terms or support for specific EU policies should include immigration attitudes as control variable. Disentangling whether immigration attitudes are more or less important predictors for opinions about certain aspects of European integration will be interesting. Moreover, including immigration attitude measures in the 2009 survey will also enable to consider cross-national differences in the importance of immigration items explaining support for European integration. Are immigration attitudes more important in some contexts than in others, e.g., when immigration levels are high or low, when many vs. few immigrants live in a country, when intra-EU (work) migration is high or low. Also the degree to which immigration attitudes mediate utilitarian considerations could depend on contextual factors. The variation in terms of relevant contexts between the different EU member states makes a multi-level perspective particularly interesting.
Furthermore, eurosceptic or anti-EU parties are regularly found on the right fringe of party systems, showing a considerable overlap with extreme-right parties. Models explaining voters’ support for these parties should include a measure of immigration attitudes as control variables.
To better understand the role of immigration attitudes, we propose to include three items, capturing opinions about the economic, cultural and security dimensions of immigration (e.g., Sniderman et al., 2004). We believe the inclusion of these items would be of great interest to a range of researchers as both an important control variable and a substantial independent variable.
• I am afraid of increasing violence and vandalism in [COUNTRY] society by immigrants.
• These days, I am afraid that the [COUNTRY] culture is threatened by immigrants.
• I am afraid that the economic prospects of [COUNTRY] society will get worse because of minorities.
Sniderman et al., 2004
• Would you say that [country]’s cultural life is generally undermined or enriched by people coming to live here from other countries?
• Would you say it is generally bad or good for [country]’s economy that people come to live here from other countries?
• [adapt for security concerns]
Posted 16/7/2008 17:05 (#103 - in reply to #60) Subject: RE: Immigration attitudes
Location: University of Oxford, UK
Thank you for submitting this proposal to the Open Forum. The PIREDEU Steering Committee met at the end of June to evaluate each of the proposals. We assessed them on the basis of whether they met the following criteria:
* An explicit argument about why the proposed question/coding category merited inclusion in one or more of the PIREDEU data components.
* An explicit argument about the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the question/coding category.
* An explicit case for how the question/coding category facilitates integration and linking of several data components. The PIREDEU Steering Committee preferred proposals that allowed for conceptual integration across the five data components (i.e. voter survey, candidate survey, media study, manifestos and contextual data).
* An explicit consideration of how the proposed question/coding category linked with questions/coding categories in past data collection efforts.
The PIREDEU Steering Committee favoured proposals that ensured over time and across instrument comparability. Moreover, given that the voter and candidate surveys can only contain a limited number of question items, priority was given to proposals with succinct question formats.
On this basis we ranked each question in the proposal as follows:
(1) The proposed item will be included in data collection instrument
(2) High priority proposal that will be included if space and time constraints permit
(3) Proposal can only be included if additional funding is secured
(4) Proposed item is not a priority
The item(s) from your proposal received the following ranking(s):
Instrument: Voter Survey
Attitudes toward immigration
Rationale: The voter survey team will include questions about immigration.
Thank you again for your participation in this process. We hope that you will continue to use the Open Forum to comment on the questionnaires/codebook that will be posted online on the Forum in the autumn.
Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee
Deputy Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee