Stockholm University
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“They take our jobs and reduce our wages”: attitudes toward immigrants in Europe

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posted on 2023-05-29, 13:08 authored by Juta KawalerowiczJuta Kawalerowicz, Ryszard Szulkin

The point of departure of this study is labor market competition theory which argues that the reasons for negative attitudes toward immigrants can be found in conditions prevailing on the labor market. In countries with rising unemployment and many immigrants the latter are considered to be a threat to the economic standard of living of the native population. The logic of the present study is that neither factor has a strong effect on xenophobic attitudes in the absence of the other. The contribution of this paper is (1) a macro-level analysis combining data from European Union Labour Force Survey on the conditions in 174 regions nested in European 19 countries with attitudinal data from the European Social Survey and (2) beside the main (additive) effect of each factor involved expands the analysis with an interaction (multiplicative) term. Looking at contexts where native born residents experience a simultaneous threat from increased unemployment and rising immigration flows provide an opportunity to test some of the underlying assumption from the labor market competition theory. The results indicate that when native unemployment is low the attitudes toward admitting immigrants into the host country are not influenced by immigration, but when native unemployment is rising high immigration flows are perceived as a threat. For attitudes toward immigration, an increase in the share of immigrants has a negative effect on attitudes and this effect is stronger in areas with weaker economy.


the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund (RJ P16-0843.1)


Original title

“They take our jobs and reduce our wages”: attitudes toward immigrants in Europe

Original language

  • English



Publication date


Affiliation (institution of first SU-affiliated author)

  • 304 Kulturgeografiska institutionen | Department of Human Geography


  • public