Value Shift: Immigration Attitudes and the Sociocultural Divide

Caroline Lancaster (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Abstract: Socially-liberal attitudes towards cultural issues, such as women's rights, enjoy broad acceptance in Western Europe, particularly among younger generations. Yet, despite theoretical claims that immigration and multiculturalism would likewise become broadly accepted, the region continues to experience significant conflict over these issues. This begs the question, have immigration attitudes become dealigned from other sociocultural attitudes in Western Europe? To answer this question, a measure of these two attitudes, their covariance, and how this covariance relates to demographic characteristics is required. Therefore, I employ a polytomous mixed explanatory IRT model measuring two latent dimensions---gender attitudes and immigration attitudes. I fit this model to data from an 11-wave panel survey of Dutch citizens (LISS). With this model, I test differential item functioning across variables such as birth cohort and gender, as well as how covariates affect ability scores and factor covariance. The model also allows me to accommodate the dependency inherent in the panel data. I hypothesize that a "liberal nationalist" attitude configuration, wherein opposition to immigration is combined with progressive gender attitudes, is particularly common among younger individuals. In contrast, older individuals who are opposed to immigration are likely to also oppose gender egalitarianism. I argue that this is due to long-term socialization processes---gender attitudes are subject to cohort replacement while immigration attitudes are not. This means older individuals exhibit relatively strong covariance between these two attitudes while younger individuals do not.

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