Hannes Weber
Attitudes Towards Minorities in Times of High Immigration: A Panel Study among Young Adults in Germany

European Sociological Review, 2019: 35, issue 2, pp. 239-257
ISSN: 0266-7215 (print); 1468-2672 (online)

Between 2010 and 2015, migration to Germany increased from very low rates to a post-war record high. A heated debate revolves around the question whether high immigration increases inter-ethnic tensions or whether greater opportunities for inter-ethnic contact reduce prejudice. Most previous research has been cross-sectional and restricted to highly aggregated contextual data, leading to incomparable results and a highly fragmented state of research. In this article, we propose a theoretical synthesis of threat and contact approaches for three distinct geographical levels. We combine longitudinal survey data on young adults in Germany between 2010 and 2015 with detailed statistics on minority groups’ population size in neighbourhoods and regions as well as monthly inflows of new migrants. We find that attitudes towards minorities improved over time until the peak in immigration during 2015 that caused views on migrant groups to deteriorate. The positive effect of being friends with minority members is offset by threat effects in neighbourhoods with a strong concentration of migrants. On the level of cities/counties, by contrast, the positive contact effect is dominant.