Immigration is among voters’ top concerns when asked about the main challenges for their country or other political entities such as the European Union (e.g. Commission, 2019a,b). Public attitudes toward immigration are becoming art of a new political cleavage (Kriesi et al., 2012; Hobolt, 2016), particularly in the aftermath of the so-called ”migration crisis”. Consequently, explaining the reasons for individual differences in attitudes to immigration has attracted increased scholarly interest. Various hypotheses regarding factors affecting attitudes to immigration have been proposed, resulting in often highly correlated determinants, making it difficult to assess which of these are truly relevant. In this article, we conduct a meta-study asking which individual indicators are consistently found to influence attitudes to immigration within the broad social science literature. Meta-analyses are essential for formally structuring and summarising the scholarly state-of-the-art on a topic. They also play a crucial role in explaining the origins of the heterogeneity of research results to academics who are non-experts in the field, policymakers, and practitioners. Our paper complements the influential review papers on attitudes towards migration (Ceobanu and Escandell, 2010; Hainmueller and Hopkins, 2014; Mayda, 2006) by providing a quantitative meta-analytical overview. Moreover, it is also worth highlighting that these reviews were done several years ago and a lot of new insights have emerged from the literature since then.
We systematise the knowledge regarding attitudes to immigration across various social science fields and cover the thirty top-ranked journals for each discipline across economics, political science, sociology, psychology, and migration/ethnic/demographic studies published between 2009 and 2019. From these, we select all 350 articles that quantitatively analyse the determinants of attitudes to immigration. After dropping all articles covering attitudes to immigration out of scope, we evaluate information from 140 academic articles and 1185 estimates in total. We thus provide an encompassing review of the research regarding attitudes to immigration published across different social science fields during the past decade.
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