Anti-immigrant sentiment and majority support for three types of welfare. The case of Germany
preprintposted on 26.02.2021, 12:16 by Tina Goldschmidt
Past research suggests that majority evaluations of welfare deservingness are structured along ethnic dividing lines. The fact that poverty and immigrant status are highly associated across Europe’s increasingly ethnically diverse societies may thus lead majorities to withdraw support from welfare programs that transfer money to people who are different from themselves. Utilizing measures of general welfarism, most prior studies have not addressed the interplay between attitudes toward immigrants and support for specific welfare types that rely on different notions of entitlement and attract varying levels of take-up among natives and immigrants. Addressing this gap in the literature and focusing on the example of Germany, this paper asks to what extent anti-immigrant sentiment relates to native-born Germans’ attitudes toward the government’s responsibility to care for three recipient groups: the unemployed, the old, and the sick. Anti-immigrant attitudes expressed as ethnic prejudice are associated with lowered support for government intervention to assist the unemployed, while support for old-age and sickness assistance does not appear to be related to levels of negative out-group sentiment. The results suggest that those who harbor ethnic prejudice are more likely to oppose aid that is predominantly means-tested, rather than universal or contribution-based, and that does benefit a large number of non-natives. The negative association between prejudice and support for unemployment assistance is independent of concerns with the economic viability of the welfare system in the face of immigration. This points to the relevance of negative affect beyond subjectively rational motives.