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Individual Gendered Attitudes toward Immigrants. Empirical Evidence from French Surveys

Individual Gendered Attitudes toward Immigrants. Empirical Evidence from French Surveys
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  Individual Gendered Attitudes toward Immigrants. Empirical Evidence from French Surveys 1   Published in The Social Science Journal, 50, 3, 2013, Pages 321–330 Abel François , EM Strasbourg Business School, Strasbourg University (LaRGE) ( and Raul Magni-Berton , Grenoble University (Pacte), Science Po Grenoble ( Abstract : This article explores “gendered attitudes” towards immigrants and argues there are three gendered effects on intolerance: i. the “gender gap” that induces different levels of intolerance for men and women; ii. “gendered sensitivity”, meaning men and women react differently to contact or competition with immigrants; iii. the “relative sex ratio” related to the demographic gender changes in the environment due to immigrants. These hypotheses are tested using the French WVS data and three different measurements of intolerance: soft and hard intolerance and relative empathy. The results highlight that the simple gender gap, already observed in the literature, can be partly accounted for by both gendered sensitivity and the relative sex ratio. More broadly, the findings confirm the hypothesis of gendered attitudes towards immigrants defined by three dimensions. 1  We would like to thank Eric Dubois for his helpful work on data, Camille Bromley and Anna Jeannesson for their work on the text, and a referee for his valuable comments. Any remaining errors are ours.  1. Introduction In industrialized countries immigration is growing each year and, as a consequence, the literature on natives’ attitudes towards immigration has expanded as well. Scholars have provided wide-reaching evidence and a range of theoretical models to understand who is for or against immigration. In this perspective, gender differences have been observed but no theoretical approach has been put forward. In cross-sectional studies, it has been shown that men are globally more tolerant of immigrants (Mayda, 2006) even if women seem to be significantly more supportive of some specific kinds of immigrants (Hainmueller & Hiscox, 2007). This global trend is, moreover, infirmed in some countries, and sometimes – as in Slovenia – evidence shows a significantly higher level of tolerance amongst women (O’Rourke & Sinnott, 2004). Moreover, this pattern is quite surprising because men tend to endorse all the values associated with the radical right-wing vote (such as conservatism, political cynism, order) but not anti-immigration attitudes, which are particularly widespread among women (Givens, 2004; Gidengil et al., 2005). Thus, it appears that gender matters, but there is a lack of theoretical accounting for this. On the other hand, empirically, gender is systematically used as a control variable, without a more sophisticated analysis, with only one exception (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2011). This article deals with this puzzle and provides a specific theoretical framework able to predict differences in acceptance of immigrants according to gender. More precisely, gender plays a key role in understanding two classic models explaining attitudes towards immigration: the contact theory and the competition theory. The primary factor explaining positive or negative attitudes towards immigration lies in the interaction between natives and immigrants. Specifically, are we more open-minded with different people when we are used to meeting them, or – on the contrary – do we tend to reject them when we share the same environment? In literature, two opposing causal  mechanisms lead to two contrary predictions. First, the contact hypothesis advocates that personal contact between members of different ethnic groups is associated with lower levels of negative attitudes towards immigrants (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew 1998). In a meta-analysis comprising results for 515 studies, Pettigrew and Tropp (2006) found that a high number of types of contact leads to reducing prejudice. Second, the competition hypothesis states that when immigrants possess the same skills as natives and they compete with them in the labor-market, natives reject immigrants. Note that this can be interpreted as an individual rejection (Facchini & Mayda, 2009; Hanson, Scheve, & Slaughter 2007) or as a rejection that stems from great solidarity with fellow citizens (Quillian, 1995). Empirical evidence does not uniformly support one hypothesis more than the other. The interaction between natives and immigrants can sometimes produce increasing cooperation and tolerance and sometimes lead to conflict and prejudice. Certain immigrant characteristics can bring about rejection or acceptance when interaction between natives and immigrants increases. Their religion (Sniderman et al., 2004) or marketable skills (Hainmuller & Hiscox, 2010) seem to predict the direction of the effect of this interaction. This article explores a gendered interaction effect that is insufficiently analyzed in literature. The general hypothesis is based on the existence of a gender dimension as a relevant criterion to evaluate the impact of immigration, besides the cultural and economic dimension. This gender dimension is divided into two mechanisms. The first is based on men’s and women’s differing sensitivity to contextual effects (contact and competition). The second mechanism relies on the interaction between women and men. The main contribution of this article to the literature on tolerance of immigration is to show that gender plays a significant role in explaining the way in which people react to immigration. Moreover, using specific estimations to capture different effects linked to  gender, we can partly explain why, in the literature, women are generally found to be more intolerant than men. And finally, we offer an explanation for the unbalanced results. 2. Background In this theoretical section, we will develop our hypotheses and expectations about differences in people’s perception of immigrants according to gender effects. What we call gendered attitudes towards immigration is the set of three different effects on tolerance of immigrants which are associated with gender differences. The gender gap.  As we have noted above, women are often observed to be more intolerant than men, even after controlling the main other relevant variables such as age, income, education and so on. But there are exceptions. For instance, Mayda’s cross-country study (2006), based on the International Social Survey Program and the World Values Survey data, finds that males are significantly more tolerant in the ISSP survey, whereas in the WVS, a gender gap does not appear. In a more detailed study based on the ISSP data, O’Rourke and Sinnott (2004) find that, out of 6 countries in 24, women are significantly more intolerant than men and in only one case is the opposite true. Hainmueller and Hiscox (2007) using the European Social Survey, find that females are more intolerant of immigrants who come from rich countries, but not of immigrants who come from poor countries. The first group of explanations of the gender gap is based on structural factors. Economic models have shown that rejection of immigrants is partly due to the expected competition with them in the labor market. Scheve and Slaughter (2001), for example, find that unskilled workers are more likely to oppose immigration (supposed to be low skilled), than skilled workers. So, when people’s skills are taken into account, the gender gap is expected to cease to be significant. Similarly, individual income is observed to be correlated  with anti-immigrant preferences (Facchini & Mayda, 2009). Globally, as women are less likely to be high skilled or high income earning, those factors should narrow the gender gap. Some authors have pointed out other structural but not economic factors. Hainmueller and Hiscox (2007; 2010) show that educated individuals tend to be more tolerant of immigrants, regardless of their competitiveness. Contrary to the economic hypothesis, education matters not because it protects people from unskilled immigrants, but because it makes people more open-minded. We can expect that in countries in which women are less educated than men, the gender gap occurs. Finally, age is also potentially a good explanation: as people become more conservative with age and women tend to live longer than men, we can expect the gender gap to disappear when age is controlled (Gidengil et al., 2005). The literature on the gender gap in preferences for radical right-wing parties does not find any relevant impact of these structural factors, even though the latter reduce the likelihood that women will be anti-immigrant (Givens, 2004). As we will show, these factors cannot significantly explain the gender gap in tolerance for immigrants either. Some attitudinal approaches to the gender gap also exist. Gidengil et al. (2005) find that, contrary to structural factors, sexual differences in attitudes, such as conservatism, anti-statism or preference for law and order, can explain the gender gap in preferences for the radical right. However, we will not adopt this approach for two reasons. First, because gendered differences in attitudes need, in turn, to be explained. These differences can be useful when all possible structural arguments have been tested. Second, because the causal link between one attitude and another is unclear. For example, we do not know exactly whether anti-immigrants attitudes are an effect of conservatism, or if they are simply included in the concept of conservatism. For these reasons, we have only retained structural factors in our estimations.
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