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"We don’t want immigrants because they don’t integrate ... and steal our jobs" : comparing economic and cultural influences on xenophobia in Canada, Australia and New Zealand Murakami, Go

Abstract

Immigration has recently become a salient political issue in liberal democracies. Many political scientists have analyzed causes of emerging support for anti-immigrant parties, and the development of immigration control in Europe. Compared to the analysis of voting behavior and policy analysis, however, public opinion concerning immigration has not been fully examined in political science literature. Thus this study systematically the public opposition to immigration in opinion surveys by applying the theory of prejudice, theory of perceived threat to group position, social identity theory and contact theory. The analysis uses the election studies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand in varied years, which are merged with census data to examine contextual effects. The broad research question is who opposes immigration, why they oppose and under what conditions they are more likely to do so. The focus of the analysis in this thesis is on comparing the influences of economic and cultural factors. A brief review of the history of accepting immigrants in three countries reveals that both factors have significantly influenced the development of immigration policy. Although economic situation strongly influences the level of public’s opposition to immigration over time, the analysis of five election studies of three countries repeatedly shows that cultural concerns increase individuals’ probability of opposition more strongly than economic concerns. The analysis also finds that the local economic situation does not stably influence opposition to immigration, even if where immigrants are geographically concentrated. On the contrary, local economic situation increases the likelihood of opposition to immigration only where immigrants are not concentrated. Geographic concentration of immigrants does not have an interaction effect with economic concerns, but it magnifies the influence of one’s cultural concerns on opposition to immigration during the economic downturn. Accordingly, the examination of interactions effects reveals that even when contextual factors influence opposition to immigration, they interact with cultural concerns. Thus cultural concerns should be paid more attention for the politics of immigration for future research.

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