The rise of anti-foreigner sentiment in European societies, 1988-2000

Moshe Semyonov, Rebeca Raijman, Anastasia Gorodzeisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

646 Scopus citations


The study examines change over time in sentiments toward out-group populations in European societies. For this purpose data were compiled from four waves of the Eurobarometer surveys for 12 countries that provided detailed and comparable information on attitudes toward foreigners between 1988 and 2000. A series of multilevel hierarchical linear models were estimated to examine change in the effects of individual- and country-level sources of threat on anti-foreigner sentiment. The analysis shows a substantial rise in anti-foreigner sentiment between 1988 and 2000 in all 12 countries. The rise in anti-foreigner sentiment was steep in the early period (between 1988 and 1994), then leveled off after that. Although anti-foreigner sentiment tends to be more pronounced in places with a large proportion of foreign populations and where economic conditions are less prosperous, the effects of both factors on anti-foreigner sentiment have not changed over time. The analysis also shows that anti-foreigner sentiment is more pronounced in places with greater support for right-wing extreme parties. The impact of individual-level socioeconomic characteristics such as education has remained stable over the years, but the effect of political ideology has increased. The meaning and significance of the findings are discussed within the context of European societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-449
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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