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Financial crisis associated with 'shock effect' on Irish attitudes towards immigrants

A study from the University of Limerick revealed the opposite effect in countries like Sweden and Denmark.

Image: crowd via Shutterstock

THE COUNTRIES THAT bore the brunt of the economic downturn saw the largest rises in negative attitudes towards immigrants, a study has found.

Researchers from the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick analysed attitudes towards immigrants between 2002 and 2010 across Europe.

They found that in countries like Denmark and Sweden, whose economies have remained relatively stable, there was a rise in positive attitudes towards immigrants.

However, in bailout countries like Ireland, Spain, and Greece, negative attitudes rose.

“It may be that the severity of the economic crisis and rapid rise in unemployment in Ireland, Greece, and Spain provided a shock effect on attitudes to immigrants,” Dr Christine Cross, one of the study’s authors, said.

In addition, it may be the case that these countries with a relatively short history of sizeable inward immigration have yet to cope with the adjustment required by downturns in the economic cycle in a multi-ethnic society.

The researchers noted that Ireland saw the biggest fluctuations in views between 2006 and 2010 – the height of the financial crisis.

“Perhaps the most intriguing finding from the study is the sizeable gap between the ratio of people in Sweden and Denmark willing to continue to allow immigrants into their country,” co-author Dr Tom Turner said, “compared to the low numbers in other European countries”.

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Nicky Ryan

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