AuthorDanielson, John Taylor
Social identity theory
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractImmigration and its impact on aggregate welfare state preferences and welfare state reform has been the subject of numerous academic and political debates. Despite prolonged attention to these issues, however, empirical research has yielded mixed results concerning what effect, if any, immigration has the structure and generosity of the welfare state. This issue is further exacerbated by the absence of concerted conceptual cross-germination between the various theoretical literatures that examine immigration's effect on various social, economic, and political outcomes, making it difficult to identify the mechanisms through which immigration may shape the welfare state. To address these issues, I draw on social psychological research, theories of the welfare state, research on radical right-wing parties, and case studies from the United States to argue that changes in both the volume and characteristics of immigrants entering Western Europe might: 1) undermine the cross-class alliances necessary for maintaining the welfare state, 2) reduce public support for welfare programs, and 3) provide politicians on the far-right with a symbolic resource that can be used to justify cutting/restructuring welfare state programs believed to benefit immigrants. Empirical examinations of these arguments using a wide range of data sources indicate that immigration may be directly and indirectly related to welfare state spending. With regard to the former, the data indicate that the influx of migrants from less-developed countries into social and Christian democratic countries has contributed to rising program demand and corresponding increases in expenditures on more reactive welfare state programs (i.e., unemployment benefits). With regard to the indirect impact of immigration on the welfare state, analyses of voting and public opinion data demonstrate that changes in immigration have contributed to the electoral success of predominantly neoliberal, far-right, nationalist parties and contributed to rising levels of anti-immigrant sentiment over time. These factors, in turn, resulted in: 1) declines in popular support for those social and Christian democratic parties that are dedicated to the maintenance and/or expansion of the welfare state, and 2) reductions in average levels of support for welfare state programs designed to address issues of unemployment, making the welfare state more vulnerable to future retrenchment.
Degree ProgramGraduate College