Sabina Albrecht, QUT - The effect of exposure to ethnic minorities on attitudes towards them: Evidence from the Netherlands

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Title: The effect of exposure to ethnic minorities on attitudes towards them: Evidence from the Netherlands

Abstract: While the negative effects of discrimination are well known, not enough is known about if, and how, people change their prejudices against ethnic minorities when they are exposed to them. In this paper, we exploit postcode-level variation in the location of refugee centers in the Netherlands to study how exposure to refugees changes self-reported attitudes to ethnic diversity. To account for endogeneity in the location of the centers, we exploit individual fixed effects regressions and test for parallel trends in attitudes in the pre-treatment period. The richness of our dataset allows studying whether changes in attitudes depend on the length of exposure and on the number of refugees hosted in centers. We find that people living in the close proximity of refugee centers tend to experience a positive change in their attitudes to ethnic diversity. The estimated effects are on average small, but they become equal to 35% of a standard deviation when exposure has lasted for at least 6 months.  Experimental evidence corroborates our results: after being exposed to refugees, individuals are less likely to discriminate against ethnic minorities in a controlled experiment.

Presenter: Sabina Albrecht, QUT

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