Does immigration hollow out state legitimacy in times of economic crisis?

P. Pennings

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This research examines the linkage between immigration and legitimacy by using comparative data and methods. Two approaches will be used to test the assumption that there is a connection between immigration and state legitimacy. First, the cross sectional approach compares the attitudes of groups of citizens on immigration and compares them with their attitude towards the democratic functioning and performance of the state. Second, the longitudinal approach investigates whether the rise of immigration coincides simultaneously with a decline of state legitimacy. It will be shown that immigration matters for state legitimacy, but that there is no general increase as a result of the economic recession. The main exception to this is Southern Europe where the structural state support dropped dramatically. In addition, a large policy gap lowers the trust of citizens in the state and its capacity to control the borders. The number of immigrants hardly matters for anti-immigration attitudes. Although the crisis-effect is weak, the satisfaction with the economy plays an important role. A multi-level analysis shows that it is an important determinant of the support of citizens of the state. The same goes for the indicator of anti-immigration attitudes which is among the strongest determinants of state legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-510
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Politics and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2017


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