Network Analysis of the Determinants of Attitudes towards Immigrants across Regions

Author Name Rachael Kei KAWASAKI (Kyoto University) / IKEDA Yuichi (Kyoto University)
Creation Date/NO. December 2021 21-E-097
Research Project Macro-Economy under COVID-19 influence: Data-intensive analysis and the road to recovery
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Widespread anti-immigrant sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that attitudes towards immigrants are a pertinent issue for policymakers aiming to create effective immigration and integration policy. However, previous research has mainly focused on European and a select group of Anglophone countries, like the United States, Canada, the UK. As a result, policymakers outside of these contexts may find this research inapplicable to their context. This study analyzes regional differences in the determinants of attitudes towards immigrants in over 50 countries by employing four signed and weighted bipartite networks of large regions of countries connected through migration. Using data from Wave 6 of the World Values Survey, four bipartite networks of countries and determinants of attitudes towards immigrants are constructed and projected into one-mode networks: one of the countries and one of the attitudes, beliefs, and values which influence attitudes, or "features." Community analysis detects which features are correlated in determining attitudes, allowing for the reduction of hundreds of features to key determinants of attitudes in a region. The study finds that prejudices towards out-groups, especially racial prejudice, are important determinants irrespective of region and can be considered a generalizable determinant of attitudes towards immigrants. Moreover, analysis of racial prejudice's links with other determinants and its subcommunity structure finds that intergroup conflict theory is influential in the Eastern Europe/Central Asia and Western Europe/North Africa networks, while neither social identity theory nor intergroup conflict theory are present in the Africa, Americas, or Asia networks. Results are mixed in the Middle East and Southeast Asia networks. Finally, values-based attitudes, such as the importance a person puts on fairness or benevolence, are more prominent in networks containing European countries, while they are not in other regions. This finding suggests that values-based communications on migration, which are often considered best practice, may not be effective in other regions, and highlights the need for greater research into cultural differences in the determinants of attitudes.