The effects of migrant residential patterns on anti-migrant political action by majority natives in the welfare state: the case of Sweden examined at the sub-national level
White, Jennifer Joelle
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The aim of this research is to elucidate the effects of migrant residential settlement patterns on the level of anti-migrant political action taken by ethnic natives within an advanced industrial democracy. I examine these effects via event data I collect at the sub-national (county) level from 1998-2014 within a comprehensive welfare state: Sweden. Although attitudes in Sweden towards migrants have been much more benign than in many other Western European countries over the past several years, the level of anti-migrant action within Sweden has nonetheless been on the increase, and to quite varying degrees within the country. Hence, despite the consistent positive attitudes towards migrants that Swedes report, ethnocentric political action has found room for expression. This gives rise to the research question: What explains the variation in the levels of anti-migrant political action within an advanced democracy? The main theory driving this research draws on group contact and conflict theory – and specifically the “halo effect” of the latter, which posits that when groups of native residents live in close physical proximity to groups of migrants, anti-migrant political action by natives will be higher. That is, greater segregation between migrant residents and native majority residents will results in greater levels of anti-migrant political action. Conversely, in areas where migrants are more evenly settled among majority native residents, anti-migrant political action will be less likely to occur – despite the absolute number of migrants living in the area. Residential settlement patterns of migrants therefore play a key role in driving native political action against perceived migrants. Whether due to conflict or economic necessity, migration into advanced industrial democracies and concomitant levels of diversity will continue to grow. The implications of this research can be extrapolated to other advanced democracies, and indicate that the number of migrants coming into a country is not as important for their integration – and for social and political stability – as where it is that they settle. Furthermore, institutions can have a significant role in managing the challenges that increasing diversity poses, and these effects are best observed at the sub-national level where the policy implementations and manifestations occur.