In this paper, we use data from the first two rounds of the European Social Survey to analyze the extent to which differences in average attitudes towards immigration across the EU-15 countries may be explained by differences in socioeconomic characteristics and individually perceived consequences of immigration, using an extension of a decomposition technique developed by Fairlie (2005). We find that despite the significant effects of socioeconomic characteristics on attitudes, differences in the distributions of these characteristics can only explain a modest share of the cross-country variation in average attitudes. A larger part can be explained by differences in perceived consequences of immigration, but the main part is still left unexplained. Apart from providing useful input for policy makers working in the area of immigration policy, this raises a number of questions for further research for which the ESS data can be successfully applied.
- Cross-country differences