Labour-market competition, recession and anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe: occupational and environmental drivers of competitive threat Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2016

start page

  • 395

end page

  • 417


  • 59


  • 14

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1475-1461

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1475-147X


  • Research on attitudes towards immigration has overemphasized the subjective dimension of threat, while the objective bases of native-immigrant competition remained largely under-studied. I investigate the impact of both occupational and environmental sources of economic competition on attitudes towards immigration in Europe. Drawing on social stratification and labour economics theory, I discuss three dimensions of the occupation affecting exposure to competition: (i) skill specialization; (ii) monitoring costs; and (iii) the mix of manual versus communicational skills. Environmental correlates are tested by estimating the net change in anti-immigrant sentiments experienced during the first dip of the Great Recession, and by connecting this change to (i) country differences in the intensity of GDP contraction and (ii) prior growth in foreign-born shares. Applying two-step multi-level regression to a pool of the 2004 and the 2010 rounds of the European Social Survey, I find evidence consistent with both occupational and environmental sources of competitive threat.


  • europe; migration; preferences; occupations; skills; crises; group conflict theory; ethnic-minorities; public-attitudes; prejudice; policy; foreigners; regression; countries; support; determinants