A cross-national examination of prejudice toward immigrants: the role of education and political ideology

Published date10 October 2016
Date10 October 2016
AuthorRyan Erhart
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
A cross-national examination of prejudice
toward immigrants: the role of education
and political ideology
Ryan Erhart
Ryan Erhart is a Doctoral
Student at the Department of
Social Psychology, University of
Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA.
Purpose More than ever before, people from around the world are migrating away from their country of
birth. Yet citizens of host countries do not always welcome these immigrants instead, citizens sometimes
express prejudice toward them. The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors that influence attitudes
toward immigrants cross-nationally.
Design/methodology/approach Secondary data from the International Social Survey Programme, which
includes data from 30 countries across two time points, were analyzed.
Findings Findings indicate that people with higher level of education tend to have more favorable attitudes
toward immigrants, while those with more politically conservative leanings and those with a greater sense of
national identity tend to hold more prejudicial attitudes toward immigrants. At the country/regional level,
education is consistent in its relationship with more favorable attitudes. However, political conservatism is
less consistent in predicting prejudice the relationship is strong in western democracies, but is largely
negligible in other parts of the world.
Originality/value The present analyses carry implications for improving anti-immigrant prejudice
throughout the world.
Keywords Education, Immigrants, Political ideology, National identity, Cross-national, Prejudice
Paper type Research paper
More than 3 percent of the worlds people are immigr ants. With increa sing global
interconnectedness, this percentage is only likely to rise into the future. Sadly, recent events
show that citizens of host countries do not always welcome immigrants. For instance, there have
been a number of anti-immigrant protests in the USA in recent years; and in 2011 there was a
tragic mass killing of 77 people in Norway by an anti-immigrant domestic terrorist. Therefore, it is
important to understand the factors (e.g. education, political ideology) that influence citizens
attitudes toward immigrants, particularly prejudice.
The present paper examines citizensattitudes toward immigrants cross-nationally using large
data sets that include nearly 30 countries, respectively, across two time points. In particular, the
paper will focus on how education and political ideology affect these attitudes. The underlying
premise is that the sociocultural systems in which people interact influence their ideologies,
identities, beliefs, and attitudes (Baecker, 2014). It is argued that not only should education and
political ideology influence individualsattitudes toward immigrants, but there may be important
cross-national variations in these patterns requiring the examination of multi-country data sets.
The findings of this paper provide evidence for the above expected relationships: education and
political ideology significantly affect individualsattitudes toward immigrants. In particular, higher
Received 3 February 2016
Revised 8 April 2016
10 June 2016
Accepted 8 July 2016
This paperwould not have been
possiblewithout the guidanceand
support of the authors academic
adviserDr Clayton Peoples. The
author wouldalso like to
acknowledge Drs Colleen Murray
and Mariah Evans for their helpful
feedbackwith early drafts of this
paper and Dr Markus Kemmelmeier
and anonymous reviewers for
helpfulfeedback with analyses
pertaining to this paper.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-02-2016-0212 VOL. 8 NO. 4 2016, pp.279-289, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599

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