Project Project
-A +A

Examining the role of immigration policies in explaining perceived ethnic threat: A multilevel approach

Bart Meuleman (University of Ghent), Eldad Davidov (University of Zurich)

Theoretical background and objectives

Little is known about whether and how integration policies might influence citizens' views towards immigrants. This relatively unexplored topic compels sociological inquiry, since integration policies represent contextual-level constraints, which might affect individual-level outcomes in a number of ways. Surprisingly, up to this date no one has provided an evidence-based answer to the question whether, to what extent and how national-level arrangements of immigration policies affect citizens' perceptions of immigrants as ethnic threat.

Research design and methodology

The research starts from a conceptual and methodological multilevel perspective. Our primary interest focuses on differences between European nation-states. We use recent Eurobarometer-data from 2009, enriched with policy Indicators from the MIPEX project


At the current preliminary stage of analysis, the results indicate that integration policies as measured via the MIPEX Indicators are of key importance for explaining country-level differences in perceived ethnic threat. Specifically, the policy indicator proves to outperform the influences of both a) economic conditions and b) the degree of ethnic diversity in a country. We take these findings to under­line the central role national-level policy arrangement play in shaping individual perceptions and preferences towards immigrants and immigration.