Article

The evolution of the economy and the rejection of immigration in Europe

Javier G. Polavieja, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

The rejection of immigration is explained by objective economic elements such as the financial crisis, the economic vulnerability of households and workers’ exposure to labour market competition.
Key points
  • 1
       The rejection of immigration has objective economic bases.
  • 2
       Workers employed in occupations most exposed to competitive pressure in the labour market tend to express higher levels of rejection of immigration, independently of their level of education.
  • 3
       An accelerated increase in immigration followed by a severe economic crisis is the most favourable scenario for growth in levels of rejection of immigration.
  • 4
       People whose households suffer greater economic difficulties show higher levels of rejection of immigration, beyond other factors such as ideology or political attitudes and values.
Relationship between the worsening economic situation and the increase in anti-immigration sentiment, 2004-2010
Relationship between the worsening economic situation and the increase in anti-immigration sentiment, 2004-2010
Putting an end to xenophobic discourses

The rejection of immigration is the basis for the national-populist discourses that are on the rise in Europe and the United States. Behind rejection of the other and xenophobia are objective economic factors such as the country’s macroeconomic evolution, individual economic vulnerability and workers’ exposure to job market competition. Ideology, identities and individual values play a fundamental role in the shaping of attitudes against immigrants, but it would be a mistake to think that education in values alone can reverse the current levels of rejection.

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