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Economic Strain, Education and Attitudes Towards Foreigners in the European Union

14 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2013  

Ira N. Gang

Rutgers University - Economics Department; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Francisco L. Rivera‐Batiz

Columbia University

Myeng‐Su Yun

Tulane University

Date Written: May 2013


Surveys carried out by the Eurobarometer survey series show a sharp increase in the negative attitudes of European citizens towards foreigners between 1988 and 2003, but a noticeable reversal of this trend between 2003 and 2008. This paper provides a statistical analysis of the determinants of attitudes towards foreigners and analyzes the factors associated with changes in anti‐foreigner sentiment among European citizens. The paper concludes that while rising racial prejudice accounts for a substantial portion of the trend in anti‐foreigner sentiment, economic conditions also matter, with economic strain leading to more negative attitudes. At the same time, educational attainment is shown to be a strong antidote to anti‐foreigner attitudes. Both rising average schooling and more positive attitudes towards foreigners by the highly educated have led to a reversal of the climbing anti‐immigrant sentiments in Europe. The paper discusses policy implications and the potential effects of the European economic collapse since 2008.

Suggested Citation

Gang, Ira N. and Rivera‐Batiz, Francisco L. and Yun, Myeng‐Su, Economic Strain, Education and Attitudes Towards Foreigners in the European Union (May 2013). Review of International Economics, Vol. 21, Issue 2, pp. 177-190, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2251688 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/roie.12029

Ira Gang (Contact Author)

Rutgers University - Economics Department ( email )

75 Hamilton Street
ECONOMICS, New Jersey Hall, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1248
United States
732-932-7363 (Phone)
732-932-7416 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econweb.rutgers.edu/gang/research

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Francisco L. Rivera‐Batiz

Columbia University

No Address Available

Myeng‐Su Yun

Tulane University

6823 St Charles Ave
No Address Available

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