Terrorist Events and Attitudes Toward Immigrants: A Natural Experiment

American Journal of Sociology 118 (5): 1199-1245

Posted: 13 Nov 2013

See all articles by Joscha Legewie

Joscha Legewie

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: March 1, 2013

Abstract

Using a quasi-experimental research design, this study examines the effect of terrorist events on the perception of immigrants across 65 regions in nine European countries. It first elaborates a theoretical argument that explains the effect of events and points to economic conditions, the size of the immigrant population, and personal contact as mediating factors. This argument is evaluated using the fact that the terror attack in Bali on October 12, 2002, occurred during the fieldwork period of the European Social Survey. The findings from this natural experiment reveal considerable cross-national and regional variation in the effect of the event and its temporal duration. The analysis on the regional level supports the argument about contextual variations in the response to the event and a second analysis based on the 2004 Madrid bombing confirms the study’s conclusions. Implications of the findings for societal responses to terror attacks, the literature on attitudes toward immigrants, and survey research are discussed.

Keywords: public opinion, attitudes toward immigrants, terror attacks, natural experiment

JEL Classification: C9

Suggested Citation

Legewie, Joscha, Terrorist Events and Attitudes Toward Immigrants: A Natural Experiment (March 1, 2013). American Journal of Sociology 118 (5): 1199-1245, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2353768

Joscha Legewie (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
William James Hall, Sixth Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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