The evolution of public opinion and attitudes towards immigration in Spain

  • Virginia Ros Albaladejo

Student thesis: Phd


Previous work in the field of public opinion towards immigration has explored the perception of immigration from the realistic threat theories (Olzak 1992; Quillian 1996) trying to explain the exogenous causes of change in public opinion. Most of this research has focused on two different sources of threat (Quillian 1995) based on the economic (Citrin et al. 1997) and the demographic situation (Semyonov et al. 2004). This research incorporates these theories aiming for a comprehensive study of the perceptions of immigration from an aggregate and an individual level (Kramer 1983), adding a dynamic point of view by looking at the years 2000 to 2014 in Spain. This is achieved, at the aggregate level, by creating two indicators of public opinion based on the Most Important Problem question – to measure the salience of the issue – and on Stimson’s Public Mood – to measure the preferences towards the issue –, and using these as the outcome variables in temporal analysis. At the individual level, it is achieved by analysing individual data from surveys across seven years and comparing the results of the analyses. At this level, the incorporation of the role of social class in determining attitudes towards immigration is key to understanding underlying mechanisms of attitudinal change. The main results cast some light on the influence of the economic circumstances, and the shock caused by the economic crisis from 2008, that make public opinion and attitudes become more negative towards immigration. The economic crisis also explains the different effects of the cultural and economic concerns in shaping attitudes towards immigration in working class population as opposed to the middle and upper classes. This research contributes, methodologically and substantively, to the study of public opinion and attitudes towards immigrants through innovation in the measurement of public opinion and acknowledging the importance of the economic shocks in shaping public opinion and attitudes.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorEdward Fieldhouse (Supervisor)


  • attitudes towards immigration
  • Spanish politics
  • public opinion
  • immigration

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