Does more education lead to a society that is more tolerant of immigrants? Examining the nature of the relationship between educational attainment and attitudes towards immigrants across generations in BritainISER Internal Seminars

In the West highly educated people are consistently found to have more positive attitudes towards immigrants than the lower educated. The sharp education expansion that started in the 1980s has therefore inspired optimism in the academic and public policy community about expected aggregate increases in tolerance. Yet, the evidence on whether younger generations are more tolerant of immigration is mixed, with some research for the UK suggesting that, despite rising levels of education, young people today are not more accepting of immigrants than previous young generations. I address this puzzle in two ways. First, I investigate whether the effect of education on tolerance at the individual level is absolute or positional, i.e. whether it changes as population-level educational attainment increases.  Second, I examine whether high and low educated UK residents are susceptible to wider cohort trends. I address these questions using multivariate regression analysis and two sources of survey data for the UK, the British Election Study and the British Social Attitudes Survey, spanning up to 60 years and covering attitudes towards immigrants for cohorts born between the start and the end of the 20th century. I find that the highly educated are consistently more tolerant than the low educated, over cohorts and over different levels of education expansion. However, I also find that education is not enough to protect against wider cohort-level trends towards intolerance. I reflect on reasons and implications of my findings.

Presented by:

Dr Victoria Donnaloja

Date & time:

May 10, 2023 12:30 pm - May 10, 2023 1:30 pm



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