Xenophobia: Causes and Consequences

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2008
End date: 31/12/2010
Funding: 2800000 SEK


Recent years have witnessed a rise in right-wing extremism and in violence aimed at ethnic minorities and immigrants in many European countries. Unluckily, Sweden and Denmark are no exception to this development.

The aim of this project is derive theoretical models and use quantitative statistical methods to study the consequences of the discrimination of immigrants and the causes of voting for anti-immigration parties and violence against immigrants in these countries.

We approximate the discrimination of immigrants by using survey evidence on attitudes towards immigrants. Even though we recognize that not every native with negative attitudes may discriminate, we think that negative attitudes are systematically related to discrimination.

We are able to identify the effect of attitudes by exploiting the natural experiment provided by refugee settlement policies. A bad labour market may cause both low wages for recent immigrants and negative attitudes among natives. This is not the effect we want to capture, therefore we use a measure of attitudes displayed more than ten years before the period in our analysis and we include immigrants from developed countries as a placebo group.

Previous studies have identified racist culture and bad economic conditions as important factors for the success of extreme right parties and right wing criminal activities. However, these theories are somewhat simplistic. There is evidence against the notion that some Swedish areas are inherently more xenophobic than others. The anti-immigrant sentiment has been strongly on the rise in Denmark despite its good economic performance. These puzzles suggest the need for serious analysis.

We plan to exploit the variation across municipalities and in time to see which factors lie behind the rise in right-wing parties and ethnic violence in Sweden. Understanding the causes of hate towards immigrant groups is indispensable for the design of policy aimed at reducing hate crimes and racism.

Last updated on 2017-29-03 at 17:13