Skip to main content

Ethnoreligious Identity, Immigration, and Redistribution

  • Stuart Soroka (a1), Matthew Wright (a2), Richard Johnston (a3), Jack Citrin (a4), Keith Banting (a5) and Will Kymlicka (a6)...

Do increasing, and increasingly diverse, immigration flows lead to declining support for redistributive policy? This concern is pervasive in the literatures on immigration, multiculturalism and redistribution, and in public debate as well. The literature is nevertheless unable to disentangle the degree to which welfare chauvinism is related to (a) immigrant status or (b) ethnic difference. This paper reports on results from a web-based experiment designed to shed light on this issue. Representative samples from the United States, Quebec, and the “Rest-of-Canada” responded to a vignette in which a hypothetical social assistance recipient was presented as some combination of immigrant or not, and Caucasian or not. Results from the randomized manipulation suggest that while ethnic difference matters to welfare attitudes, in these countries it is immigrant status that matters most. These findings are discussed in light of the politics of diversity and recognition, and the capacity of national policies to address inequalities.

Hide All
Banting, K. and Soroka, S.. 2012. “Minority Nationalism and Immigrant Integration in Canada.” Nations and Nationalism 18 (2): 156176.
Fox, C. 2004. “The Changing Color of Welfare? How Whites’ Attitudes toward Latinos Influence Support for Welfare.” American Journal of Sociology 110: 580625.
Gilens, M. 1996. “‘Race-Coding’ and Opposition to Welfare.” American Political Science Review 90: 593604.
Gilens, M. 2009. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hainmueller, J. and Hopkins, D. J.. 2014. “The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes toward Immigrants.” American Journal of Political Science 59 (3): 529548.
Harell, A., Soroka, S., and Iyengar, S.. 2016. “Race, Prejudice and Attitudes toward Redistribution: A Comparative Experimental Approach.” European Journal of Political Research 55: 723744.
Kinder, D., and Kam, C. (2009). Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Nannestad, P. 2007. “Immigration and Welfare States: A Survey of 15 Years of Research.” European Journal of Political Economy 23 (2): 512532.
Peffley, M., Hurwitz, J., and Sniderman, P.. 1997. “Racial Stereotypes and Whites’ Political Views of Blacks in the Context of Welfare and Crime.” American Journal of Political Science 41: 3060.
Reeskens, T. and van Oorschot, W.. 2012. “Disentangling the ‘New Liberal Dilemma’: On the Relation between General Welfare Redistribution Preferences and Welfare Chauvinism.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 53: 120139.
Rydgen, J. 2008. “Immigration Sceptics, Xenophobes, or Racists? Radical Right Voting in Six European Countries.” European Journal of Political Research 47: 737765.
Schaeffer, M. 2014. Ethnic Diversity and Social Cohesion: Immigration, Ethnic Fractionalization and Potentials for Civic Action. Farnham: Ashgate.
Schram, S. F., Soss, J. B., and Fording, R. C., eds. 2010. Race and the Politics of Welfare Reform. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Senik, C., Stichnoth, H., and Van der Straeten, K.. 2009. Immigration and Natives’ Attitudes towards the Welfare State: Evidence from the European Social Survey. Social Indicators Research 91 (3): 345370.
Stichnoth, H., and Van der Straeten, K.. 2013. “Ethnic Diversity, Public Spending, and Individual Support for the Welfare State: A Review of the Empirical Literature.” Journal of Economic Surveys 27 (2): 364389.
Valentino, N., Soroka, S., Iyengar, S., Aalberg, T., Duch, R., Fraile, M., Hahn, K. S., Hansen, K. M., Harell, A., Helbling, M., Jackman, S. D., and Kobayashi, T.. 2017. “Economic and Cultural Drivers of Immigrant Support Worldwide.” British Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming).
Van der Meer, T. and Tolsma, J.. 2014. “Ethnic Diversity and Its Supposed Detrimental Effects on Social Cohesion.” Annual Review of Sociology 40: 459478.
van der Waal, J., Achterberg, P., Houtman, D., de Koster, W., and Manevska, K.. 2010. “‘Some are More Equal than Others’: Economic Egalitarianism and Welfare Chauvinism in the Netherlands.” Journal of European Social Policy 20: 350363.
Wright, M., Levy, M., and Citrin, J.. 2016. “Public Attitudes toward Immigration Policy across the Legal/Illegal Divide: The Role of Categorical and Attribute-Based Decision-Making.” Political Behavior 38 (1): 229253.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Experimental Political Science
  • ISSN: 2052-2630
  • EISSN: 2052-2649
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-experimental-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Soroka et al supplementary material
Soroka et al supplementary material 1

 Unknown (26 KB)
26 KB
Supplementary materials

Soroka et al supplementary material
Soroka et al supplementary material 2

 Unknown (4 KB)
4 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed