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The impact of intra-EU migration on welfare chauvinism

  • Cornelius Cappelen (a1) and Yvette Peters (a2)

We examine whether intra-EU migration affects welfare chauvinistic attitudes, i.e. the idea that immigrants’ access to the welfare system should be restricted. According to the in-group/out-group theory, migration can unleash feelings of insecurity and thus trigger welfare chauvinism. According to intergroup contact theory, welfare chauvinism should decrease when immigration is higher, because contact reduces prejudice and softens anti-immigrant stances. We test these theories using data from the European Social Survey 2008/2009, supplemented with country-level data, and analyse these data using a multilevel ordered logit approach. We find a negative relation between intra-EU immigration and welfare chauvinism, supporting the intergroup contact theory: in countries with more intra-EU migration, welfare chauvinism tends to be lower. Furthermore, the higher the percentage of East European immigrants compared to other EU immigrants, the higher the level of welfare chauvinism.

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