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What Shapes Europeans’ Attitudes toward Xeno-philia(/phobia)?

Economidou, Claire and Karamanis, Dimitris and Kechrinioti, Alexandra and Xesfingi, Sofia (2017): What Shapes Europeans’ Attitudes toward Xeno-philia(/phobia)?

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Migration has strongly manifested itself to historic highs, creating divisive views among politicians, policy makers and individuals. The present paper studies the Europeans’ attitudes toward immigration and the contextual factors that shape these attitudes. Based on 267,282 respondents from 22 countries and over the period 2002-2014, we find that despite the eventful past years, Europeans, on average, are still positive toward immigrants with the North European countries to be the most xenophile to immigrants of all backgrounds. High educational level and political orientation (right-wing) are among the most important individual characteristics that associate with xenophile and xenophobic sentiments, respectively. Macroeconomic conditions and ethnic diverse environments play a very important role in shaping public attitudes. A salient finding of our analysis is that regardless of the impact of other contextual factors, individuals (and countries) with high social capital do exhibit more positive attitudes toward immigration than the rest of the population (countries). Social capital further moderates the negative effects of any "perceived threat" on people’s opinions about immigrants.

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