A Need for Control? Political Trust and Public Preferences for Asylum and Refugee Policy

30 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2020

See all articles by Anne-Marie Jeannet

Anne-Marie Jeannet

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre

Esther Ademmer

Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Martin Ruhs

Migration Policy Centre (MPC), European University Institute (EUI)

Tobias Stöhr

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

Political trust matters for citizens’ policy preferences but existing research has not yet considered whether this effect depends on how policies are designed. To fill this gap, this article analyses whether and how policy design and political trust interact in shaping people’s policy preferences. We theorise that policy controls such as limits and conditions can function as safeguards against uncertainty, thereby compensating for a person's lack of trust in political institutions in generating support for policy provision. Focusing on the case of public preferences for asylum and refugee policy, our empirical analysis is based on an original conjoint experiment with 12,000 respondents across eight European countries. Our results show that individuals’ trust in the political institutions of the European Union has a central role in the formation of their asylum and refugee policy preferences. Individuals with lower levels of political trust in European institutions are less supportive of asylum and refugee policies that provide expansive, unlimited, or unconditional protection and more supportive of policies with highly restrictive features. We also demonstrate that even politically distrusting individuals can systematically support policies that provide protection and assistance to refugees if there are limits or conditions on policy provision. We conclude by discussing the relevance of our findings to theoretical understandings of the role of political trust in the formation of individuals’ policy preferences.

Keywords: Political trust, policy preferences, asylum and refugee policy.

Suggested Citation

Jeannet, Anne-Marie and Ademmer, Esther and Ruhs, Martin and Stöhr, Tobias, A Need for Control? Political Trust and Public Preferences for Asylum and Refugee Policy (January 2020). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2020/01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3633816 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3633816

Anne-Marie Jeannet (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre ( email )

Villa Malafrasca
Via Boccaccio 151
Florence, I-50133
Italy

Esther Ademmer

Kiel Institute for the World Economy ( email )

P.O. Box 4309
Kiel, Schleswig-Hosltein D-24100
Germany

Martin Ruhs

Migration Policy Centre (MPC), European University Institute (EUI) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

Tobias Stöhr

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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