Immigration attitudes and immigration policy in Germany and South Africa
Although immigrant integration policies have long been hypothesised to be causally related to the salience of xenophobia, systematic empirical research investigating this relationship only gained momentum in recent years. One of the more robust findings is that more permissive policies seem to be associated with decreased perceptions of group threat from immigrants. Yet, these research projects are often limited to once-off cross-sectional comparisons of immigrant integration policies, and anti-foreigner sentiments in European countries. This study uses systematic methods to test the direction of the policy-attitude linkage through a longitudinal analysis. Moreover, the study contributes to the existing literature by expanding this test to South Africa, representing the hitherto under-researched developing world setting and a geographical area that differs from the highly industrialised European context. The longitudinal analysis of immigrant integration policies in Germany and South Africa confirms that over time both countries implemented several changes that resulted in more accommodating policy frameworks. A subsequent analysis of the policy-attitude relationship confirms the direction of causality running from policies to citizens’ economic and cultural threat perceptions. Furthermore, the results confirm that integration policies indeed have the theorised mediating influence on the salience of economic threat in Germany. However, immigrant integration policies do not seem to be connected to economic threat in the case of South Africa.