Exclusion of ethno-religious minorities in European countries: The role of immigrant integration policies and welfare policies
Dr. Michael Savelkoul (Assistant Professor, Radboud University Nijmegen)
During the past decades many European countries have become more diverse in terms of ethnic and religious groups. In our research we set out to rigorously test previous theoretical propositions that people tend to have consensual and cumulative rankings of exclusion of ethnic and religious outgroups, often referred to as ‘ethnic hierarchies’. We focused on three particular ethnic and religious minorities, i.e., Muslims, Jews and Roma. While Muslims are the largest religious minority group in Europe, Roma are considered to be Europe’s largest ethnic minority group.
We found empirical evidence for the consensual and cumulative ranking of exclusion of the ethno-religious outgroups in our research: most Europeans wish to allow no Roma to come into their country, followed by Muslims while Jews were the least excluded ethno-religious outgroup. We found support for this cumulative rank order within 18 out of 20 different European countries and within many different social categories within these societies.
Although support was found for a consensual and cumulative ranking of exclusion of the ethno-religious minorities across Europe, levels of exclusion vary strongly between European countries. As a next step, we addressed the question whether these variations are related to differences in immigrant integration policies and welfare policies across Europe. While more welcoming immigrant integration policies set norms that might affect the views and behaviour of citizens exposed to these policies, more generous welfare policies might protect citizens against the consequences of immigration. We expected that exposure to both types of policies is negatively associated with exclusion of ethno-religious minorities, but that these relationships might be weaker for people in economic precarious positions as compared to their more privileged counterparts, because people in such precarious positions face more intergroup competition and perceive more intergroup threat.
Considering both types of policies simultaneously, we only found support for a negative association between immigrant integration policies and ethno-religious exclusionism. While this association holds equally for people in precarious and non-precarious economic positions, the picture is different for welfare policies. Exposure to more generous welfare policies is negatively associated with ethno-religious exclusionism for people in non-precarious positions, however, this relationship is less strong or even becomes positive for those in precarious positions.
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