The Gap between Public Preferences and Policies on Immigration: A Comparative Examination of the Effect of Politicisation on Policy Congruence

  • Laura Morales, Jean-Benoit Pilet, Didier Ruedin
  • Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, March 2015, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/1369183x.2015.1021598

When do public preferences and policies on immigration agree?

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

What is it about?

Public preferences on immigration and policies on immigration do not always agree. We examine some potential variables associated with this opinion-policy gap. We examine public opinion and policies across time (1995 to 2010) and countries. The electoral strength of anti-immigrant parties is unrelated to the opinion-policy gap on immigration. By contrast, where immigration is salient and there is intensive public debate, the opinion-policy gap is affected: the combination of negative attitudes in the population with extensive media coverage seems particularly conducive to policy congruence.

Why is it important?

The nature and variation of the opinion-policy gap on immigration has been contested. We provide a comparison across countries and time to better capture the opinion-policy gap


Didier Ruedin
Universite de Neuchatel

There has been extensive theoretical work outlining the opinion-policy gap and when we can expect it to be particularly large (or small). Here we could provide more extensive data than previous work to examine the nature of this relationship.

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The following have contributed to this page: Didier Ruedin