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Intergroup Contact, Group Threat, and Ethnic Tolerance in Scandinavian Regions

Open Panel

Abstract

The issue of immigration is becoming more and more salient, and has emerged as a prominent political issue in the Scandinavian countries. There are two contradictory opinion forming mechanisms at play when the majority population comes in contact with immigrants. Intergroup contact theory states that interaction between minority and majority groups will lead to more tolerant attitudes. Group threat theory, on the other hand, emphasizes competition, which motivate in-group members to express anti out-group attitudes. In this paper I investigate the link between the proportion of immigrants in a region, and people’s attitudes towards immigration. I employ multilevel modelling, where both individual-level and region-level variables are included. Most of the previous studies have used European countries as level-2 units, an approach which has its drawbacks like the large difference/heterogeneity between the countries and only limited possibilities to include country level control variables due to the low level-2 N. This paper uses regions in three fairly similar countries, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and there is therefore less heterogeneity among level-2 units than one has to control for by using level-2 control variables. The findings show that there is no significant effect of percentage immigrants in a region on people’s ethnic tolerance. This can be explained by the underlying mechanisms which pull opinion in different directions.