Postmaterialism and Income Inequality: A Study on the Effects of Income Inequality on Attitudes toward Immigration in 32 Countries
Abstract: Drawing on recent research dealing with income inequality and tolerance, this thesis seeks to address the impact of income inequality, both across and within nations, on attitudes toward immigration. I perform a series of OLS-regressions, based on data from the European Social Survey, where the obtained results confirm a negative relationship between income inequality and tolerance of immigration. For the upper middle class, the results support the Postmaterialist proposition that national prosperity leads to more tolerance. However, this does not hold for the middle and working class. The gap pertaining to the different responses to immigration within the boundaries of a particular community seems wider than previous studies have suggested. These findings are significant to take into account for policy makers. Firstly, they shed light on the underlying reasons as to why resistance toward newcomers is tangible nowadays, a heated subject in the political sphere presently. Secondly, they explain the underlying dynamics that give rise to far right parties and the appeal they command in many European countries. Thirdly, they incorporate income inequality as an integral component when dealing with the issues of tolerance. It is my contention that failure to take these insights into consideration and may engender more intolerant social and political values. This in turn is liable to create tensions between different social strata and thus less harmonious societies.
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