Preferring Refugees: How German Attitudes Changed During the European Refugee Crisis and Along Historical State Divides

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2017-05-15

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Abstract

The 2015 refugee crisis brought 1.3 million migrants to Europe; of those, one million sought asylum in Germany, bringing profound social and political repercussions. Germany is now challenged with aiding and integrating over a million migrants; my thesis aims to understand how German attitudes towards refugees have changed over the course of the refugee crisis. This study uses data from national surveys to determine trends in German public opinion on migrants between March 2015 and March 2016. A discrete choice experiment revealed implicit preference biases among German citizens on the bases of religious affiliation, gender, profession and education level, origin, and reason for immigrating. German citizens felt most strongly towards religion and reason for immigrating; Muslim refugees and migrants seeking economic improvement were heavily disfavored when compared to Christians and migrants claiming persecution. Respondents in the former GDR disfavored Muslim migrants more than respondents in western Germany, but western Germans’ attitudes towards Muslims changed significantly during the refugee crisis. Respondents in west Germany also held stronger preferences against economic migrants; these attitudes changed significantly more than eastern respondents’ over time. These trends in German public opinion on refugees have important social and political implications for integration efforts and asylum policies moving forward.

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McMichael, John (2017). Preferring Refugees: How German Attitudes Changed During the European Refugee Crisis and Along Historical State Divides. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14349.


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