Do Foreigners Deserve Rights? Determinants of Public Views Towards Foreigners in Germany and Israel

Rebeca Raijman, Moshe Semyonov, Peter Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the present paper we compare public views regarding the equality of rights foreigners deserve in Germany and Israel using data from two national representative samples (ALLBUS in Germany, 1996 and Attitudes Towards Minorities Survey in Israel, 1999). The data reveal that anti-immigrant sentiments (as expressed by the denial to grant rights to foreign workers) are more pronounced in Israel than in Germany. These findings hold even after controlling for individual socio-economic and demographic characteristics and differential levels of threat. In both countries, support for foreigners' rights tend to increase with level of education and to decline with age. In Germany, support for rights is also affected by income (positively), right-wing orientation (negatively), and residence in East Germany (negatively). In both countries, the most important determinant of support for foreigners' rights is the perception of threat. The greater the threat the more likely citizens are to deny rights to labour migrants. It should be noted, however, that the impact of threat on attitudes towards foreigners' rights as well as the impact of political orientation (right-wing) is more pronounced in Germany than in Israel. While threat is the more important determinant of anti-foreigner sentiments in both societies, it only partially intervenes between individual characteristics and attitudes toward foreigners' rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-392+i
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Grant from the GIF, the German Israeli Foundation for Scienti¢c Research and Development (grant #596-154-04198) and a grant from the Israel Foundations Trustees (grant #72/98). We would like to thank Anat Yom-Tov, Evgenia Kotsiubinski, Arie Heyder, and Julia Iser for their help and advice, and Yossi Shavit and three anonymous reviewers from the ESR for their helpful comments. A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the meeting of Research Committee 28 on Social Strati¢cation and Mobility, Mannheim, Germany, in April 2001.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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