Young people growing up in a recession often more negative about immigration

Erasmus University Rotterdam
Image - Robert Dur

Recently, Robert Dur, Professor of Economics of Incentives and Performances at Erasmus School of Economics, gave a mini-lecture on the topic of immigration. Are people against immigration because they have (had) hard times themselves?

Unemployment is an unavoidable phenomenon in any economy, which plays up especially during times of recession. In particular, young people who are just entering the labour market and who have more difficulty finding new jobs experience difficulties during recessions. It is often the case that young people who start working during a recession suffer for years afterwards. This manifests itself particularly in lagging salary growth and a higher likelihood of becoming unemployed again later. 

What is also striking is that young people growing up in a recession tend to be more strongly supportive of government poverty policies. Dur investigated whether these young people had the same compassion for people outside 'their group': immigrants. His conclusion: people who experienced worse economic conditions during their younger years are significantly more negative about immigration and immigrants. This is also known as 'in-group' and 'out-group behaviour', Dur explains.

More information

You can watch the full mini-lecture from Erasmus University Rotterdam, 23 March 2024, here.

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