Partisanship, local context, group threat, and Canadian attitudes towards immigration and refugee policy

Partisanship, local context, group threat, and Canadian attitudes towards immigration and refugee... Abstract The 2015 Canadian federal election campaign brought to the fore partisan cleavages in approaches to immigration policy, refugee policy, and multiculturalism. At the level of mass public opinion, research on attitudes toward immigration in Canada and other immigrant-receiving countries has pointed to a variety of explanatory factors. These include partisanship, economic interests, and feelings of cultural threat. There is also a growing literature on the effects of local demographic (specifically ethnic or immigrant) context in shaping attitudes toward immigration. Such a contextually-oriented approach, however, has been pursued by relatively few analysts of Canadian public opinion. This article endeavours to fill this gap. It brings together recent survey data and local-level demographic data to answer the question of what leads Canadians to hold open or restrictionist attitudes toward immigrants and refugees, focusing on the roles of partisanship, contextual measures of local immigrant populations, and perceptions of economic and cultural threat. 1. Introduction National elections in industrialized democracies seldom make foreign affairs central campaign issues. In this respect, Canada is no exception, with foreign policy having only a peripheral role in most elections of the recent past (Gravelle et al. 2014). The federal election of 2015, however, was different in that Canada’s response to the ongoing conflict in Syria and the ensuing flow of refugees became a major focus of the campaign. The attention given to refugee policy was prompted by the image of the body of a young Syrian refugee on a Turkish beach, whose family was reportedly attempting to reach Canada. While the then-incumbent Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper set the modest goal of resettling 10,000 refugees from Syria over three years, and further sought to frame the issue as giving rise to national security risks necessitating a cautious response, the centrist Liberal Party and left-of-centre New Democratic Party emphasized the need to respond quickly and generously to an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau, for example, committed at the time to resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of December 2015. The 2015 federal election cycle thus highlighted the tensions between immigration, multiculturalism, and national identity in contemporary Canada (Banting 2010), as well as the tensions between humanitarianism and national security (cf. Adelman 2002). In this context, it is worth asking: what does the Canadian public think about welcoming newcomers—whether arriving through legal immigration channels or as refugee claimants? Further, what factors shape public attitudes toward immigrants and refugees? This article takes up these questions. Drawing on survey data collected during the lead-up to the 2015 federal election, it examines how partisanship, local demographic context (specifically immigrant concentration), and perceptions of economic and cultural threat shape individual-level attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy in Canada. While all of these factors are shown to influence immigration and refugee policy attitudes, the empirical results point to the effects of partisanship and local context being mediated by perceptions of economic and cultural threat. The article advances our understanding of immigration attitudes by testing a number of prevailing hypotheses in the context of an officially bilingual, officially multicultural country with a large immigrant intake and a large foreign-born population (Reitz 2012). This context differs in important ways from the more frequently studied American and European cases. It also advances our understanding of the determinants of public attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers—a topic that, while timely, has seldom been addressed directly (but see Ivarsflaten 2005; Welch 2014; Bansak et al. 2016; Carson et al. 2016). The article is structured as follows. First, it reviews the research literature on immigration attitudes, surveying findings cross-nationally while highlighting those specific to Canada. Next, the article advances a set of hypotheses relating both immigration policy and refugee policy to a set of explanatory factors: political party support, local (immigrant) context, perceptions of economic threat (in the form of labour market competition), and perceptions of cultural threat. The article then introduces the survey data employed and describes the statistical methods. It then presents the results from a series of statistical models and discusses their substantive implications for mass public opinion. It concludes with some reflections on avenues for further inquiry. 2. The sources of immigration and refugee policy attitudes Empirical social science exhibits no shortage of studies seeking to explain why individuals are alternately open toward integrating ‘outsiders’ into the body politic or are restrictionist, seeking to exclude them (Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014). One line of research focuses on economic threat, that is, the ‘realistic’ competition for jobs between native-born and foreign-born workers. According to the labour market competition hypothesis, native-born workers in lower-skilled occupations are more likely to express restrictionist immigration attitudes (Citrin et al. 1997; Scheve and Slaughter 2001; Malhotra et al. 2013). Research has also found that changes in macroeconomic conditions—i.e. increases in unemployment or weak (or negative) economic growth—also increase restrictionist sentiment (Hopkins 2010; Wilkes and Corrigall-Brown 2011; Billiet et al. 2014; Goldstein and Peters 2014). Another explanation is provided by research focusing on the ‘symbolic’ threats posed by newcomers. This cultural threat hypothesis emphasizes how perceptions of a lack of congruence between core national values, identity, and culture (on the one hand) and the cultures, values, and beliefs of newcomers (on the other) provokes restrictionist immigration attitudes (Schildkraut 2011; Newman et al. 2012; Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014). The economic and cultural threat hypotheses have typically not been evaluated in tandem, but research findings indicate that both factors play a role in shaping individuals’ immigration attitudes (Chandler and Tsai 2001; McLaren 2003; Harell et al. 2012). Many studies also find a link between political factors (such as party identification and ideology) and immigration attitudes, with those on the political right (or identifying with right-of-centre parties) expressing more restrictionist attitudes, and those on the political left (or identifying with left-of-centre parties) expressing greater openness toward immigration (e.g. McLaren 2003; Hawley 2011; Schildkraut 2011; Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014; Gravelle 2016). Indeed, resistance to immigration has typically come from the political right, and Canada is no exception in this respect (Banting 2010). The study of immigration attitudes has also borrowed from seminal studies of racial attitudes, particularly as it relates to the effect of local context (e.g. Key 1949). Applied to the study of immigration attitudes, such contextual approaches have produced mixed results, in part due to differences in the resolution of the geographic units, details of model specification, and measures of anti-immigrant sentiment (Pottie-Sherman and Wilkes 2017). While some studies find that larger local-area proportions of foreign born or ethnic minority residents leads to more restrictionist immigration attitudes (Campbell et al. 2006), others find that these contextual measures produce less restrictionist attitudes (Hood and Morris 1997; McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Kaufmann 2017), and yet others find inconsistent or non-significant results (Citrin et al. 1990).1 With specific reference to the Canadian case, authors have sought to explain immigration attitudes using different measures of context at different levels. For example, Palmer (1996), and Wilkes and colleagues (2008, 2011) define context nationally and temporally, finding that increases in the national level of unemployment, or weak (or negative) economic growth increases restrictionist immigration attitudes. Bilodeau and colleagues (2012) take Canada’s provinces as the relevant contextual containers, finding that large immigrant populations at the provincial level and higher provincial unemployment produce more restrictionist immigration attitudes. Still, existing research on Canadian immigration attitudes has, for the most part, not explored the effects of genuinely local context. This omission represents an opportunity for further study. 3. Theory and hypotheses Given the array of findings linking different explanatory factors to immigration policy attitudes, the focus here is on partisanship, local context (specifically, the percentage of immigrants at the local level), ‘realistic’ economic threat, and ‘symbolic’ cultural threat on Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy. (These hypotheses are summarized graphically in Figure 1.) Other explanatory variables are included in the models as controls. Advancing a single set of hypotheses relating to both immigration policy and refugee policy is further motivated by the close association between immigration and asylum in media framing: refugees are a dominant frame used in newspaper coverage of immigration issues (Lawlor 2015a; Blinder and Allen 2016), and the public imagining of immigrants is often as asylum seekers (Blinder 2015). Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Theoretical framework. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Theoretical framework. The finding that mass policy attitudes are shaped by political factors such as party identification has been a mainstay of research in political behaviour for decades. Mass publics are frequently characterized by low levels of knowledge of and cognitive engagement with the specifics of public policy (Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996). Still, publics are often able to express attitudes toward policy issues when prompted. The dominant explanation for this is that members of the public take cognitive shortcuts in relying on ‘elite cues’ in forming their policy attitudes. Thus, cleavages in mass public opinion tend to mirror cleavages in elite opinion, with the mass public taking cues from elites with whom they are politically or ideologically aligned (Zaller 1992). Such cues have been prominent in the recent Canadian political context. The previous (2006–2015) Conservative government of Stephen Harper took a hard line on a number of immigration-related issues. This included increasing the minimum passing mark on citizenship tests, tightening residency requirements for Canadian citizenship, and expanding the scope of the law allowing for the denaturalization of dual citizens, for example, in cases of criminal convictions for terrorism-related offences. As previously observed, the approach to resettling Syrian refugees of the then-incumbent Conservative government presented during the 2015 federal election campaign was less ambitious than the plans advanced by the Liberal Party and the NDP. The Conservative approach stressed the need to balance national security considerations against a humanitarian impulse—a frame challenged by both the Liberals and NDP. While partisanship may be expected to exert effects on attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy, local demographic context—specifically the concentration of immigrants—may also shape attitudes. One possible mechanism for this is interpersonal contact: measures of local demographic context may simply serve as proxies for direct, interpersonal contact. Following the intergroup contact hypothesis, contact between members of different groups can, in the presence of supporting conditions, create positive out-group perceptions (Allport 1954; Pettigrew 1998). Besides direct contact, there are other social processes implied by local context, including passive exposure to minority languages and cultures (Enos 2014; Hopkins et al. 2014), and the content of local media, which may emphasize immigration-related topics in areas with high concentrations of immigrants, though evidence is mixed on this account (Branton and Dunaway 2009; Abrajano and Hajnal 2015; Lawlor 2015b). Though research on Canada examining the effects of local context is thin (but see Blake 2003; Mulder and Krahn 2005), research focusing on Europe (McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015) and some research examining the USA (Hood and Morris 1997; Gravelle 2016) links larger proportions of racial/ethnic minorities or foreigners in an area and more open immigration attitudes. It is not clear, however, whether partisanship and local context exert effects on immigration and refugee policy attitudes directly, or whether their effects are mediated by—or channelled through—perceptions of group threat. Research approaching immigration attitudes from a political economy perspective has emphasized that attitudes are shaped by individual economic circumstances and the perceived economic consequences of accepting immigrants (Citrin et al. 1997; Scheve and Slaughter 2001). In addition to the material (or ‘realistic’) threat implied by competition for jobs, there is also the ‘symbolic’ dimension indicated by perceptions of cultural threat—that is, anxiety over the implications of immigration for national values, identity, and culture. Such feelings of threat may be motivated by beliefs that immigrants have failed to learn the majority language(s) of the receiving country, or to adapt sufficiently to local customs and norms. Indeed, previous research has linked feelings of cultural threat to restrictionist immigration attitudes (Harell et al. 2012; Newman et al. 2012; Breton 2015; Newman 2015; Ostfeld 2017). Not only does existing research find that perceptions of economic and cultural threat shape attitudes toward immigration policy, there are also findings that point to such perceptions of threat as the mechanisms through which other factors (such as partisanship and local context) exert their effects. While one might expect individuals holding right-wing political beliefs to favour free markets for labour, existing research suggests the opposite. Hermann and colleagues (2001) find that political conservatives tend to view international economic affairs in zero-sum, relative gains terms rather than adopting a consistent pro-market perspective. Applied to immigration and the competition for jobs between native-born and immigrant workers, this may manifest itself as beliefs that ‘they’ are taking jobs away from ‘us’. Additionally, a number of studies have noted a preference for cultural exclusion among those on the political right, compared to a preference for cultural openness among those on the political left (Citrin et al. 1990; Newman et al. 2012). In the American context, recent research has found that the effects of partisanship and local context on immigration attitudes are indeed mediated by perceptions of threat (Newman 2013; Johnston et al. 2015). This implies that political factors and local context are more distant (or ‘background’) causes of immigration and refugee policy attitudes, with perceptions of group threat serving as the proximate causes. This theoretical framework differs from some recent work on the politics of immigration in the USA and the UK which reverses the direction of the relationship between immigration attitudes and partisanship. Abrajano and Hajnal (2015) assert that growing anxieties over rising Latino immigration have driven American whites to increasingly identify with and vote for the Republican Party. Similarly, work by Evans and colleagues (2013, 2016) and Kaufmann (2017) point to anti-immigrant sentiment as driving reduced support for the Labour Party and increased support for the populist, right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP). The implications of these studies for Canada, however, are limited. Canada’s focus on skill-based migration and longstanding policies of official bilingualism and official multiculturalism (Reitz 2012) mean that the racial and partisan sorting discussed by Abrajano and Hajnal has no Canadian parallel. Also, there is no single-issue, anti-immigrant party akin to UKIP in the Canadian political system, with all major parties (including the Conservatives) making prominent appeals to newly-immigrated Canadians for political support. Consequently, it is more reasonable to theorize party support as shaping immigration and refugee policy attitudes than vice versa in the Canadian context. With these theoretical considerations in place (and summarized in Figure 1), we can advance the following hypotheses. (To economize space, and because the hypotheses are the same for both the immigration policy and refugee policy domains, they are stated only once, while applying to both dependent variables.) H1: As perceptions of labour market competition increase, restrictionist immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will increase. H2: As perceptions of cultural threat increase, restrictionist immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will increase. H3: The effect of partisanship on immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will be mediated by perceptions of labour market competition and cultural threat. H4: The effect of the percentage of local-area immigrants on immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will be mediated by perceptions of labour market competition and cultural threat. 4. Data and methods To test these hypotheses in the contemporary Canadian context, data from the 2015 Focus Canada survey conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research are well suited. Survey data collection was conducted via a nationally representative, probability-based telephone survey employing a dual-frame (landline plus mobile phone) sample design. Overall, 2,003 interviews were completed across all 10 provinces from the 3rd to the 18th of June 2015. In addition to providing a large representative sample and a questionnaire focused on attitudes toward multiculturalism, immigration and refugee policy, and voting intentions, these data have the added benefit of being well-timed: the Syrian refugee crisis was being prominently covered in the Canadian and international news media in mid-2015 and media speculation about when the official election period would begin was increasing (with the date of the election set as 19 October 2015 by law, it remained only a question of when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper would seek to dissolve Parliament, officially beginning the election campaign). This context served to increase the salience of immigration and refugee policy, as well as potential party cues. The key measure of attitudes toward immigration policy asks respondents to rate their level of agreement with the statement that ‘[o]verall, there is too much immigration to Canada’. This survey item thus captures the continuum from closed or restrictionist attitudes toward immigration (on the one hand) to open or incorporationist attitudes (on the other). The Environics Institute data suggest that Canadian public opinion on immigration is divided. While a thin majority of the Canadian public (57 per cent) disagree that there is too much immigration, 38 per cent agree (see Table 1). These results align broadly with other evidence showing that the Canadian public is generally positively inclined—but not overwhelmingly so—in its attitudes toward immigration (Banting 2010). Table 1. Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% Table 1. Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% With respect to Canadians’ attitudes toward refugees, the key survey item asks respondents to state the degree to which they ‘favour or oppose Canada accepting political refugees who do not qualify for immigration to Canada by the normal procedures’. Here, the survey item wording emphasizes that refugees are fleeing political persecution of some kind, and that the typical immigration procedures for economic migrants and family reunification do not apply. When asked for their attitudes toward accepting refugees, the Canadian public is again seen to be divided: 40 per cent favour accepting refugees, while one half (50 per cent) oppose (see Table 1). Though the immigration and refugee policy survey items both measure Canadians’ acceptance (or lack of acceptance) of newcomers, they are distinct on their faces in terms of measuring restrictionist attitudes toward (legal) immigration, and acceptance of refugees, respectively. Empirically, they exhibit only a modest negative association (Pearson’s r: –0.30, Tau B: –0.26, Gamma: –0.35). This implies a limited degree of conceptual overlap. To measure perceptions of labour market competition (or more broadly economic threat), the Environics Institute data provide a ready measure in an item that asks respondents whether they agree or disagree that ‘immigrants take away jobs from other Canadians’. The survey data suggest that perceptions of labour market competition are not particularly widespread among the Canadian public: 30 per cent agree that immigrants take away jobs; 68 per cent disagree (see Table 2). These perceptions of economic threat stand in contrast to perceptions of cultural (or symbolic) threat. The Environics Institute survey asks respondents whether they agree or disagree that ‘[t]here are too many immigrants coming into this country who are not adopting Canadian values’. While not specifying the content of ‘Canadian values’, this survey item nevertheless captures the belief (or not) that immigrants to Canada hold values that differ from mainstream Canadian society. The survey data indicate that feelings of cultural threat are fairly widespread, with 65 per cent of the Canadian public expressing agreement, and 30 per cent expressing disagreement (see Table 2). This result aligns with the level of perceived cultural threat among the Canadian public reported by Breton (2015). Table 2. Canadian attitudes toward labour market competition and cultural threat Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% Table 2. Canadian attitudes toward labour market competition and cultural threat Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% In addition to these attitudinal measures, the Environics Institute data also include measures of vote intent for the 2015 federal election. In the absence of a question asking directly about party identification, vote intent serves (by default) as a proxy measure of partisanship. It is important to emphasize here that it is a valid and usable proxy. Vote choice has been used as a proxy by Wilkes and colleagues (2008) in studying Canadian immigration attitudes. Previous research on Canadian political behaviour has also repeatedly confirmed a strong association between party identification and party vote choice—though to be sure, other factors such as party leader evaluations and judgments of party performance also shape vote choice (Blais et al. 2001; Stephenson et al. 2004; Clarke et al. 2011, 2017). Other data collected in the same time period provide further confirmation of the strong relationship between party identification and vote choice. The campaign period survey of the 2015 Canadian Election Study yields a Pearson contingency coefficient of 0.79 for the relationship between party identification and vote choice (see Appendix 6 in the online supplementary material). In sum, vote intent is a reasonable proxy of partisanship in the Canadian case, though following the discussion above, partisanship remains the concept of interest. Also, the Environics Institute survey data include a range of demographic variables: sex, age, education, income, region, and mother tongue (see the online supplementary material for full details of question wording, data coding, and descriptive statistics). A common strategy in the study of immigration attitudes is to subset one’s data to examine only native-born majority-group members—for example, non-Hispanic whites in the American context (Newman and Velez 2014; Gravelle 2016). Applied to Canada, one might examine the attitudes of white, non-immigrant English- and French-speakers. The Environics Institute data do not, however, provide information on respondents’ racial, ethnic, or immigration background, precluding such a strategy. This is likely of little practical consequence: previous research in the Canadian context has found little effect of being Canadian-born (or not) on support for immigration (Palmer 1996; Mulder and Krahn 2005). Some previous research on Canada has used mother tongue (specifically non-English/non-French) as a proxy for immigration status, yet the effect of mother tongue on immigration attitudes is inconsistent and typically null (Wilkes et al. 2008; Bilodeau et al. 2012). In light of these previous findings, it is reasonable to analyse the full sample data while controlling for mother tongue (using English as the baseline category, with indicators for French and a synthetic ‘Other’ category). Though Environics data from previous years have been used elsewhere to explore Canadians’ immigration attitudes (see Wilkes and Corrigall-Brown 2011), a novel aspect of the analyses of the 2015 Environics Institute data presented here is the augmentation of the survey data with local area demographic characteristics; specifically, the percentage of immigrants at the Census Subdivision (CSD) level for the year 2011 (CSDs are generally coterminous with Canadian municipalities). These demographic data originate from the 2011 CensusPlus database from Environics Analytics. These area characteristics are matched to survey respondents using the CSD codes and municipality names included in the telephone sample records and retained in the survey dataset.2 To retain all cases in the statistical analyses and avoid biasing parameter estimates by analysing only complete cases, multiple imputation (MI) routines are used to impute missing survey data (Allison 2001; Little and Rubin 2002). Ordinal logit models are then fitted to these multiply-imputed datasets. These model the probabilities of lower-ordered response categories as cumulative over the probabilities of a higher-ordered response (Fox 2008). Models were fitted using procedures that account for the complex sample design of the data, and then combined using procedures for multiply imputed data originally advanced by Rubin (1987) to produce the final estimates.3 In anticipation of mediated relationships as presented in H3 and H4, path analysis in a structural equation modelling (SEM) framework is also used (Kline 2015). 5. Results and discussion Several interesting findings emerge from the regression analysis. Examining first Canadians’ attitudes toward immigration, the results from model 1.1 indicate that Conservative supporters are significantly more likely to agree that there is too much immigration to Canada (compared to Liberal supporters, the reference category). There is also a negative effect of NDP vote intent, though significant only at the p ≤ 0.10 level (see Table 3). The effect of Bloc Québécois support does not approach statistical significance (though no hypothesis was advanced relating to Bloc support, in anticipation of the small sample of Bloc voters in the data). In sum, the data generally support the theoretical expectations linking partisanship to immigration attitudes: Conservatives are the most restrictionist in outlook, NDP supporters are the least restrictionist, while Liberal identifiers hold an in-between position. All else equal, the predicted probability of agreeing that there are too many immigrants in Canada is 0.54 for Conservative Party supporters, 0.43 for Liberal Party supporters, 0.37 for NDP supporters, and 0.51 for Bloc Québécois supporters.4 In addition, model 1.1 indicates that Canadians’ immigration attitudes bear the imprint of demographic context: higher percentages of immigrants at the local (CSD) level result in a statistically significant decrease in beliefs that there is too much immigration to Canada. All else equal, increasing local immigrant concentration from the first percentile (0.2 per cent) to the 99th percentile (52.6 per cent) is associated with a decrease in the predicted probability of agreeing that there is too much immigration from 0.56 to 0.37. This result aligns with some of the empirical findings relating to American and European immigration attitudes, where higher immigrant or ethnic minority concentrations decrease restrictionist immigration attitudes (Hood and Morris 1997; McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Gravelle 2016). It is important to note that these results hold even after controlling for other relevant factors, such as age, education, region, and mother tongue. Table 3. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (ordinal logit) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Ordinal logit (proportional odds) models with standard errors adjusted for the complex sample design. Missing data are imputed 10 times. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. Table 3. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (ordinal logit) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Ordinal logit (proportional odds) models with standard errors adjusted for the complex sample design. Missing data are imputed 10 times. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. The results presented in model 1.1, however, are not conditioned on the effects of perceptions of economic or cultural threat. Measures of these concepts are added in model 1.2. Both exert strong effects, and increase restrictionist immigration attitudes, confirming H1 and H2. Further, the magnitudes of the coefficients for perceptions of labour market competition and cultural threat indicate that the realistic threat of competition for jobs exerts a greater effect on immigration attitudes than the symbolic threat to Canadian culture.5 This contrasts with previous research on American and European immigration attitudes, which has found that cultural threat is pre-eminent (Chandler and Tsai 2001; McLaren 2003). Translating the results into predicted probabilities again allows us to be concrete. Moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that immigrants take jobs is associated with an increase in the predicted probability of agreeing that there is too much immigration from 0.11 to 0.85. By comparison, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values is associated with an increase in the predicted probability of agreeing that there is too much immigration from 0.09 to 0.57. At the same time, neither partisanship nor local immigrant concentration continue to have statistically significant effects on immigration attitudes, after controlling for the realistic and symbolic aspects of group threat. These results point to the mediating roles of perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Thus, the results of model 1.2 also offer tentative support for H3 and H4. Turning to Canadians’ attitudes toward refugee policy, similar patterns emerge (see Table 3). In model 2.1, there are again significant effects for vote intent, with Conservative supporters less likely to favour accepting political refugees and NDP supporters more likely to favour accepting them (compared to Liberal supporters). Again, there is no significant effect of Bloc Québécois support. The predicted probabilities of favouring (either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’) the acceptance of refugees are, all else equal, 0.31 for Conservative Party supporters, 0.38 for Liberal Party supporters, 0.48 for NDP supporters, and 0.41 for Bloc Québécois supporters. These results reconfirm the more restrictionist orientation of Conservative supporters and the more open orientation of NDP supporters vis-à-vis migration policy (compared to Liberal supporters) and accord with theoretical expectations. Model 2.1 also suggests an effect of local context, with higher immigrant concentration serving to increase support for accepting political refugees. Again increasing local immigrant concentration from the first percentile (0.2 per cent) to the 99th percentile (52.6 per cent) while holding other independent variables constant, the predicted probability of being in favour of accepting refugees increases from 0.26 to 0.46. This effect of local immigrant concentration again remains significant after conditioning on the effects of vote intent, age, education, region, and mother tongue. Still, the results in model 2.1 do not account for the effects of group threat. Though less closely related conceptually to refugee policy than immigration policy, labour market competition and cultural threat are nevertheless relevant to attitudes toward refugee policy in that they capture anxieties driven by external, migration-inducing forces, whether such migration is driven by ‘pull’ or ‘push’ factors (that is, economic opportunities for migrants, or forced population movements). As empirical matter, their importance is clear, since their introduction in model 2.2 yields highly significant (and negative) effects on attitudes towards accepting refugees. These results thus support H1 and H2. What is more, after controlling for beliefs that immigrants take away jobs and do not adopt Canadian values, Conservative support no longer exerts a significant effect. NDP identification, however, continues to exert a positive effect on attitudes toward accepting refugees. While model 2.1 exhibited a significant positive effect of local area immigrant concentration, this effect is weakened in model 2.2, becoming significant only at the p ≤ 0.10 level. Overall, these results suggest (at least) partial mediation of the effects of partisanship and local immigrant concentration on attitudes toward accepting refugees by perceptions of economic and cultural threat. They therefore offer support for H3 and H4. Also, while economic threat exerted a stronger effect on immigration attitudes, cultural threat exerts a stronger effect on attitudes toward refugees.6 Specifically, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that immigrants take jobs results in a decrease in the predicted probability of favouring the acceptance of refugees from 0.46 to 0.28. By contrast, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values produces a decrease in the predicted probability of favouring the acceptance of refugees from 0.63 to 0.26. Given that the results of the ordinal logit models suggest the mediation of the effects of partisanship and local context on immigration and refugee policy attitudes by perceptions of economic and cultural threat, mediation should be tested directly. Path analysis in a structural equation modelling (SEM) framework allows for such tests. The path model specifies three sets of relationships: (1) paths from party support and local context to both economic and cultural threat; (2) paths from party support and local context to immigration and refugee policy attitudes; and (3) paths from economic and cultural threat to immigration and refugee policy attitudes (see Figure 1). Thus, the path model tests direct effects (e.g. the effect of local context on economic threat, or economic threat on immigration attitudes), indirect effects (e.g. the effect of local context on immigration attitudes via economic threat) and total effects (the sum of direct and indirect effects) (Kline 2015). Since mediation models involving ordinal data are not well developed, these tests rely on a linear structural equation model.7 (One might also examine the effects of partisanship and local context on both perceptions of economic and cultural threat in a second set of ordinal logit models. These are reported as Models 3 and 4 in the online Appendix.) The results from the path model reconfirm that heightened perceptions of both economic and cultural threat lead to stronger agreement that there is too much immigration to Canada, and lower support for accepting refugees (in these cases, the estimates of the total and direct effects are the same, as they do not involve mediation). Specifically, they indicate that moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement that immigrants take away jobs is associated with an increase of 1.48 scale points, from 1.74 to 3.22 (on a 1–4 scale) on the restrictionist immigration policy question. The same movement from strong disagreement to strong agreement on the question measuring cultural threat is associated with an increase of 0.88 points, from 1.72 to 2.60. By comparison, with respect to the acceptance of refugees, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement that immigrants take away jobs is associated with a decrease of 0.36 scale points in acceptance from 2.38 to 2.02; moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement on the cultural threat measure is associated with a decrease of 0.71 points from 2.70 to 1.99. These results confirm once more the greater importance of realistic group threat (in the form of labour market competition) to immigration policy attitudes, and the greater importance of the symbolic dimension of group threat in shaping attitudes toward refugees.8 Still, both are relevant. As for the effects of partisanship on immigration policy, the path model again shows no direct effect of either Conservative Party or NDP support; that is, after controlling for the effects of perceptions of economic and cultural threat. The total effect of Conservative support (0.23), however, is positive and highly significant. There is also a weak negative total effect of NDP support (–0.12). As for the effects of partisanship on accepting refugees, there is a significant (negative) total effect of Conservative Party support (–0.16), and significant (positive) total effect of NDP support (0.21). These results again align with those from the ordinal logit models. In sum, there continue to be important (total) effects of party support on immigration and refugee policy attitudes despite the absence of direct effects. The effect of partisanship is transmitted via perceptions of realistic and symbolic threat (see Table 4 and the online Appendix). Table 4. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (path model) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Just-identified (saturated) path model, with all variables predicting immigration and refugee attitudes, and exogenous variables predicting perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Model includes correlated disturbances between immigration and refugee policy attitude items, and between perceptions of economic and cultural threat items. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, and mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. Table 4. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (path model) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Just-identified (saturated) path model, with all variables predicting immigration and refugee attitudes, and exogenous variables predicting perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Model includes correlated disturbances between immigration and refugee policy attitude items, and between perceptions of economic and cultural threat items. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, and mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. The path model results similarly reconfirm the effects of local immigrant context on immigration and refugee policy attitudes. While the local area immigrant percentage has no direct effect on attitudes toward immigration and only a weak positive effect on accepting refugees, there are significant total effects in each case: higher immigrant concentration at the local level decreases beliefs that there is too much immigration and also increases acceptance of refugees. Specifically, increasing local immigrant concentration from the first percentile (0.2 per cent) to the 99th percentile (52.6 per cent) is associated with a decrease of 0.39 scale points from 2.54 to 2.15 on the immigration policy question, and an increase of 0.43 points from 1.96 to 2.39 on the refugee acceptance question. As with partisanship, local immigrant context matters for public attitudes toward accepting immigrants and refugees even in the absence of direct effects. The likely mechanism is that individuals in diverse locales (and by implication more accustomed to cultural diversity) are less likely to experience feelings of economic or cultural threat.9 These findings parallel those from the USA and the UK relating to local ethnic and foreign-born populations to immigration attitudes (Hood and Morris 1997; McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Kaufmann 2017). Further, they reconfirm that local immigrant context is substantively important, in that its effects on immigration and refugee policy attitudes are transmitted via perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Local context, like party support, is simply further back in the causal sequence. 6. Conclusion Canadians’ attitudes toward immigration policy have been relatively understudied, and their attitudes toward refugees even more so. At the same time, the 2015 federal election highlighted the importance of understanding Canadians’ attitudes toward these policy domains. This article tested hypotheses relating to the effects of partisanship, local context, the realistic threat of labour market competition, and the symbolic threat of culturally unfamiliar newcomers using data from the Environics Institute collected in mid-2015, a period during which the incorporation and accommodation of newcomers to Canada were highly salient political issues. The findings presented here demonstrate that partisanship, local immigrant context, perceptions of economic threat, and perceptions of cultural threat all play roles in shaping attitudes toward immigration policy and refugee policy. To summarize, Conservative Party supporters, those residing in areas with low concentrations of immigrants, and those with heightened perceptions of economic and cultural threat are most likely to express restrictionist attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. NDP supporters, those residing in areas with high concentrations of immigrants, and those perceiving little economic or cultural threat are least likely to express restrictionist attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. Importantly, the effects of partisanship and local context are (largely) mediated by perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Further, the results indicate that perceptions of economic (or realistic) group threat play a greater role in shaping attitudes towards immigration policy. By contrast, perceptions of cultural (or symbolic) group threat play a greater role in shaping attitudes toward accepting refugees. These results suggest that not all out-groups provoke the same type or magnitude of threat—a conjecture deserving further exploration in future research. While the findings presented here point to perceptions of threat as the most important, proximate causes of restrictionist immigration and refugee policy attitudes, perceptions of threat are in turn shaped by partisanship and local immigrant concentration. A complete understanding of immigration and refugee policy attitudes, therefore, must account for both politics and place. This article offers insight into the factors shaping Canadians’ attitudes towards welcoming newcomers, yet other avenues of inquiry ought to be pursued. The analyses of local context undertaken here took Census Subdivisions (or municipalities) as measures of local context, yet this is far from the only possible level at which context might be measured (cf. Bilodeau et al. 2012). Given appropriate survey data with high-resolution geographic indicators, even more granular measures of local context could be examined, allowing for a comparison of effects operating at ‘micro’ as well as ‘meso’ levels: what is happening on one’s street or block (on the one hand) and in one’s town, city, or metropolitan area (on the other) might affect one’s attitudes in different ways (Kaufmann and Harris 2015). To facilitate such analyses, survey researchers will need to collect (and disseminate) very local-level geographic indicators. Having such data available will assist in pursuing a deeper understanding of the interplay between political orientations, perceptions of material interests, perceptions of symbolic threats, and socio-demographic context as they bear on attitudes toward immigrants and refugees in modern democracies. Footnotes 1. A common critique of the literature on contextual models of political behaviour relates to the prospect of selection bias. In the present case, the critique is that the relationship between local context and immigration attitudes may be due to individuals with pro-immigrant (or anti-immigrant) attitudes selecting into (or out of) areas of high immigrant concentration, rather than a true effect of local context on immigration attitudes. Recent research on immigration attitudes in the USA (Hopkins 2010) and the UK (Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Kaufmann 2017) address this objection by employing longitudinal data, finding that the direction of the relationship is from local context to immigration attitudes and not the reverse. Other research on immigration attitudes argues that the key dynamic is not local demographic context as such, but rather (or also) change in the local context over time: rapid growth in the minority or foreign born population at the local level increases restrictionist attitudes (Hopkins 2010; Newman 2013; Newman and Velez 2014; Kaufmann 2017). Tested against these Canadian data, however, percentage point change in local immigrant context (calculated from demographic estimates from 2001 and 2011) has no statistically significant effect on immigration policy or refugee policy attitudes. Still, percentage point change (logged) in local area immigrant context is included in the models as a control. Full results are reported in the online supplementary material. 2. Another question relates to whether the concentration of immigrants from all countries of origin is the right measure of context. Here, it is worth noting that no one country or region is predominant as a source of immigration in the contemporary Canadian case, with the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, the USA, and the UK currently comprising the top seven countries (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2015). This provides a clear contrast with the American case, where Mexico has in the past 50 years provided more immigrants to the USA than the next seven countries combined: China, India, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and El Salvador (Pew Research Center 2015). Further, some readers might see a multilevel (or hierarchical) model as necessary given the hypotheses involving contextual effects at the CSD (or municipality) level. This is not strictly the case. Properly considered, multilevel analysis assumes a multilevel data generating process—e.g. a random sample of clusters (CSDs), and random sampling within clusters (Hox 2010; West et al. 2014). As a nationally representative probability sample with respondents selected without regard to clustering, the Environics Institute data are not a multi-stage sample. Thus, the analyses presented here are appropriately ‘single-level’ contextual analyses (following Books and Prysby 1991). 3. Multiple imputation of missing data was performed using IVEWare version 0.1 for SAS (Raghunathan et al. 2001; Raghunathan 2015) which implements multivariate sequential regression (or chained equations) to impute data that are missing due to non-response, and is able to impute both continuous and categorical data. Ten imputations were created. Ordinal logit models were fit to the multiply imputed data using SAS PROC SURVEYLOGISTIC, with estimates then combined using SAS PROC MIANALYZE to produce the final reported results. 4. Predicted probabilities are calculated directly from the reported model coefficients, setting all continuous independent variables to their means, and categorical independent variables to their reference categories. That is, they assume a female, 44.9 year old, Ontario-resident English-speaker, and calculate the cumulative predicted probability of agreeing (‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’) that there is too much immigration to Canada, and favouring accepting refugees (either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’). 5. The test of the equality the coefficients is statistically significant (χ2 = 12.22, d.f. = 1, p < 0.001). This confirms that the economic threat coefficient is greater than the cultural threat coefficient in the case of immigration attitudes. 6. The test of the equality the coefficients is again statistically significant (χ2 = 7.62, d.f. = 1, p < 0.01). This confirms that the cultural threat coefficient is greater than the economic threat coefficient in the case of attitudes toward refugees. 7. Path models were fitted to the multiply imputed data using SAS PROC CALIS, with estimates again combined using SAS PROC MIANALYZE to produce the final reported results. 8. Separate tests of the equality of the path model coefficients for economic and cultural threat (using linear constraints) are statistically significant for both dependent variables: immigration policy attitudes (χ2 = 35.73, d.f. = 1, p < 0.001), and attitudes toward refugees (χ2 = 8.64, d.f. = 1, p < 0.01). These results reconfirm that perceptions of economic threat exert a greater effect on immigration policy attitudes, while perceptions of cultural threat exert a greater effect on acceptance of refugees. 9. It is worth noting that while local immigrant percentage (logged) is negatively associated with both economic and cultural threat, percentage point change (2001–2011, logged) is positively associated with perceptions of economic and cultural threat (cf. Kaufmann 2017; Newman and Velez 2014). See Appendix 4 in the online materials. Results from the path model, however, indicate that these effects are not transmitted to immigration and refugee policy attitudes, as the total effects of change in immigrant concentration are statistically insignificant. See Appendix 5 in the online materials. Acknowledgements Previous versions of this article were presented at the 2016 Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Austin, Texas, and the 2016 Annual Conference of the Canadian Political Science Association in Calgary, Alberta. I would like to thank Keith Neuman of the Environics Institute for Survey Research for access to the survey data analysed in this article. I would also like to thank Thomas Scotto of the University of Strathclyde and Carol Gravelle of Mount Saint Vincent University for their helpful comments. References Abrajano M. , Hajnal Z. ( 2015 ) White Backlash: Immigration, Race and American Politics . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . 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Partisanship, local context, group threat, and Canadian attitudes towards immigration and refugee policy

Migration Studies , Volume Advance Article – Sep 23, 2017

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
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2049-5838
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2049-5846
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10.1093/migration/mnx058
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Abstract

Abstract The 2015 Canadian federal election campaign brought to the fore partisan cleavages in approaches to immigration policy, refugee policy, and multiculturalism. At the level of mass public opinion, research on attitudes toward immigration in Canada and other immigrant-receiving countries has pointed to a variety of explanatory factors. These include partisanship, economic interests, and feelings of cultural threat. There is also a growing literature on the effects of local demographic (specifically ethnic or immigrant) context in shaping attitudes toward immigration. Such a contextually-oriented approach, however, has been pursued by relatively few analysts of Canadian public opinion. This article endeavours to fill this gap. It brings together recent survey data and local-level demographic data to answer the question of what leads Canadians to hold open or restrictionist attitudes toward immigrants and refugees, focusing on the roles of partisanship, contextual measures of local immigrant populations, and perceptions of economic and cultural threat. 1. Introduction National elections in industrialized democracies seldom make foreign affairs central campaign issues. In this respect, Canada is no exception, with foreign policy having only a peripheral role in most elections of the recent past (Gravelle et al. 2014). The federal election of 2015, however, was different in that Canada’s response to the ongoing conflict in Syria and the ensuing flow of refugees became a major focus of the campaign. The attention given to refugee policy was prompted by the image of the body of a young Syrian refugee on a Turkish beach, whose family was reportedly attempting to reach Canada. While the then-incumbent Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper set the modest goal of resettling 10,000 refugees from Syria over three years, and further sought to frame the issue as giving rise to national security risks necessitating a cautious response, the centrist Liberal Party and left-of-centre New Democratic Party emphasized the need to respond quickly and generously to an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau, for example, committed at the time to resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of December 2015. The 2015 federal election cycle thus highlighted the tensions between immigration, multiculturalism, and national identity in contemporary Canada (Banting 2010), as well as the tensions between humanitarianism and national security (cf. Adelman 2002). In this context, it is worth asking: what does the Canadian public think about welcoming newcomers—whether arriving through legal immigration channels or as refugee claimants? Further, what factors shape public attitudes toward immigrants and refugees? This article takes up these questions. Drawing on survey data collected during the lead-up to the 2015 federal election, it examines how partisanship, local demographic context (specifically immigrant concentration), and perceptions of economic and cultural threat shape individual-level attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy in Canada. While all of these factors are shown to influence immigration and refugee policy attitudes, the empirical results point to the effects of partisanship and local context being mediated by perceptions of economic and cultural threat. The article advances our understanding of immigration attitudes by testing a number of prevailing hypotheses in the context of an officially bilingual, officially multicultural country with a large immigrant intake and a large foreign-born population (Reitz 2012). This context differs in important ways from the more frequently studied American and European cases. It also advances our understanding of the determinants of public attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers—a topic that, while timely, has seldom been addressed directly (but see Ivarsflaten 2005; Welch 2014; Bansak et al. 2016; Carson et al. 2016). The article is structured as follows. First, it reviews the research literature on immigration attitudes, surveying findings cross-nationally while highlighting those specific to Canada. Next, the article advances a set of hypotheses relating both immigration policy and refugee policy to a set of explanatory factors: political party support, local (immigrant) context, perceptions of economic threat (in the form of labour market competition), and perceptions of cultural threat. The article then introduces the survey data employed and describes the statistical methods. It then presents the results from a series of statistical models and discusses their substantive implications for mass public opinion. It concludes with some reflections on avenues for further inquiry. 2. The sources of immigration and refugee policy attitudes Empirical social science exhibits no shortage of studies seeking to explain why individuals are alternately open toward integrating ‘outsiders’ into the body politic or are restrictionist, seeking to exclude them (Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014). One line of research focuses on economic threat, that is, the ‘realistic’ competition for jobs between native-born and foreign-born workers. According to the labour market competition hypothesis, native-born workers in lower-skilled occupations are more likely to express restrictionist immigration attitudes (Citrin et al. 1997; Scheve and Slaughter 2001; Malhotra et al. 2013). Research has also found that changes in macroeconomic conditions—i.e. increases in unemployment or weak (or negative) economic growth—also increase restrictionist sentiment (Hopkins 2010; Wilkes and Corrigall-Brown 2011; Billiet et al. 2014; Goldstein and Peters 2014). Another explanation is provided by research focusing on the ‘symbolic’ threats posed by newcomers. This cultural threat hypothesis emphasizes how perceptions of a lack of congruence between core national values, identity, and culture (on the one hand) and the cultures, values, and beliefs of newcomers (on the other) provokes restrictionist immigration attitudes (Schildkraut 2011; Newman et al. 2012; Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014). The economic and cultural threat hypotheses have typically not been evaluated in tandem, but research findings indicate that both factors play a role in shaping individuals’ immigration attitudes (Chandler and Tsai 2001; McLaren 2003; Harell et al. 2012). Many studies also find a link between political factors (such as party identification and ideology) and immigration attitudes, with those on the political right (or identifying with right-of-centre parties) expressing more restrictionist attitudes, and those on the political left (or identifying with left-of-centre parties) expressing greater openness toward immigration (e.g. McLaren 2003; Hawley 2011; Schildkraut 2011; Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014; Gravelle 2016). Indeed, resistance to immigration has typically come from the political right, and Canada is no exception in this respect (Banting 2010). The study of immigration attitudes has also borrowed from seminal studies of racial attitudes, particularly as it relates to the effect of local context (e.g. Key 1949). Applied to the study of immigration attitudes, such contextual approaches have produced mixed results, in part due to differences in the resolution of the geographic units, details of model specification, and measures of anti-immigrant sentiment (Pottie-Sherman and Wilkes 2017). While some studies find that larger local-area proportions of foreign born or ethnic minority residents leads to more restrictionist immigration attitudes (Campbell et al. 2006), others find that these contextual measures produce less restrictionist attitudes (Hood and Morris 1997; McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Kaufmann 2017), and yet others find inconsistent or non-significant results (Citrin et al. 1990).1 With specific reference to the Canadian case, authors have sought to explain immigration attitudes using different measures of context at different levels. For example, Palmer (1996), and Wilkes and colleagues (2008, 2011) define context nationally and temporally, finding that increases in the national level of unemployment, or weak (or negative) economic growth increases restrictionist immigration attitudes. Bilodeau and colleagues (2012) take Canada’s provinces as the relevant contextual containers, finding that large immigrant populations at the provincial level and higher provincial unemployment produce more restrictionist immigration attitudes. Still, existing research on Canadian immigration attitudes has, for the most part, not explored the effects of genuinely local context. This omission represents an opportunity for further study. 3. Theory and hypotheses Given the array of findings linking different explanatory factors to immigration policy attitudes, the focus here is on partisanship, local context (specifically, the percentage of immigrants at the local level), ‘realistic’ economic threat, and ‘symbolic’ cultural threat on Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy. (These hypotheses are summarized graphically in Figure 1.) Other explanatory variables are included in the models as controls. Advancing a single set of hypotheses relating to both immigration policy and refugee policy is further motivated by the close association between immigration and asylum in media framing: refugees are a dominant frame used in newspaper coverage of immigration issues (Lawlor 2015a; Blinder and Allen 2016), and the public imagining of immigrants is often as asylum seekers (Blinder 2015). Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Theoretical framework. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Theoretical framework. The finding that mass policy attitudes are shaped by political factors such as party identification has been a mainstay of research in political behaviour for decades. Mass publics are frequently characterized by low levels of knowledge of and cognitive engagement with the specifics of public policy (Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996). Still, publics are often able to express attitudes toward policy issues when prompted. The dominant explanation for this is that members of the public take cognitive shortcuts in relying on ‘elite cues’ in forming their policy attitudes. Thus, cleavages in mass public opinion tend to mirror cleavages in elite opinion, with the mass public taking cues from elites with whom they are politically or ideologically aligned (Zaller 1992). Such cues have been prominent in the recent Canadian political context. The previous (2006–2015) Conservative government of Stephen Harper took a hard line on a number of immigration-related issues. This included increasing the minimum passing mark on citizenship tests, tightening residency requirements for Canadian citizenship, and expanding the scope of the law allowing for the denaturalization of dual citizens, for example, in cases of criminal convictions for terrorism-related offences. As previously observed, the approach to resettling Syrian refugees of the then-incumbent Conservative government presented during the 2015 federal election campaign was less ambitious than the plans advanced by the Liberal Party and the NDP. The Conservative approach stressed the need to balance national security considerations against a humanitarian impulse—a frame challenged by both the Liberals and NDP. While partisanship may be expected to exert effects on attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy, local demographic context—specifically the concentration of immigrants—may also shape attitudes. One possible mechanism for this is interpersonal contact: measures of local demographic context may simply serve as proxies for direct, interpersonal contact. Following the intergroup contact hypothesis, contact between members of different groups can, in the presence of supporting conditions, create positive out-group perceptions (Allport 1954; Pettigrew 1998). Besides direct contact, there are other social processes implied by local context, including passive exposure to minority languages and cultures (Enos 2014; Hopkins et al. 2014), and the content of local media, which may emphasize immigration-related topics in areas with high concentrations of immigrants, though evidence is mixed on this account (Branton and Dunaway 2009; Abrajano and Hajnal 2015; Lawlor 2015b). Though research on Canada examining the effects of local context is thin (but see Blake 2003; Mulder and Krahn 2005), research focusing on Europe (McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015) and some research examining the USA (Hood and Morris 1997; Gravelle 2016) links larger proportions of racial/ethnic minorities or foreigners in an area and more open immigration attitudes. It is not clear, however, whether partisanship and local context exert effects on immigration and refugee policy attitudes directly, or whether their effects are mediated by—or channelled through—perceptions of group threat. Research approaching immigration attitudes from a political economy perspective has emphasized that attitudes are shaped by individual economic circumstances and the perceived economic consequences of accepting immigrants (Citrin et al. 1997; Scheve and Slaughter 2001). In addition to the material (or ‘realistic’) threat implied by competition for jobs, there is also the ‘symbolic’ dimension indicated by perceptions of cultural threat—that is, anxiety over the implications of immigration for national values, identity, and culture. Such feelings of threat may be motivated by beliefs that immigrants have failed to learn the majority language(s) of the receiving country, or to adapt sufficiently to local customs and norms. Indeed, previous research has linked feelings of cultural threat to restrictionist immigration attitudes (Harell et al. 2012; Newman et al. 2012; Breton 2015; Newman 2015; Ostfeld 2017). Not only does existing research find that perceptions of economic and cultural threat shape attitudes toward immigration policy, there are also findings that point to such perceptions of threat as the mechanisms through which other factors (such as partisanship and local context) exert their effects. While one might expect individuals holding right-wing political beliefs to favour free markets for labour, existing research suggests the opposite. Hermann and colleagues (2001) find that political conservatives tend to view international economic affairs in zero-sum, relative gains terms rather than adopting a consistent pro-market perspective. Applied to immigration and the competition for jobs between native-born and immigrant workers, this may manifest itself as beliefs that ‘they’ are taking jobs away from ‘us’. Additionally, a number of studies have noted a preference for cultural exclusion among those on the political right, compared to a preference for cultural openness among those on the political left (Citrin et al. 1990; Newman et al. 2012). In the American context, recent research has found that the effects of partisanship and local context on immigration attitudes are indeed mediated by perceptions of threat (Newman 2013; Johnston et al. 2015). This implies that political factors and local context are more distant (or ‘background’) causes of immigration and refugee policy attitudes, with perceptions of group threat serving as the proximate causes. This theoretical framework differs from some recent work on the politics of immigration in the USA and the UK which reverses the direction of the relationship between immigration attitudes and partisanship. Abrajano and Hajnal (2015) assert that growing anxieties over rising Latino immigration have driven American whites to increasingly identify with and vote for the Republican Party. Similarly, work by Evans and colleagues (2013, 2016) and Kaufmann (2017) point to anti-immigrant sentiment as driving reduced support for the Labour Party and increased support for the populist, right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP). The implications of these studies for Canada, however, are limited. Canada’s focus on skill-based migration and longstanding policies of official bilingualism and official multiculturalism (Reitz 2012) mean that the racial and partisan sorting discussed by Abrajano and Hajnal has no Canadian parallel. Also, there is no single-issue, anti-immigrant party akin to UKIP in the Canadian political system, with all major parties (including the Conservatives) making prominent appeals to newly-immigrated Canadians for political support. Consequently, it is more reasonable to theorize party support as shaping immigration and refugee policy attitudes than vice versa in the Canadian context. With these theoretical considerations in place (and summarized in Figure 1), we can advance the following hypotheses. (To economize space, and because the hypotheses are the same for both the immigration policy and refugee policy domains, they are stated only once, while applying to both dependent variables.) H1: As perceptions of labour market competition increase, restrictionist immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will increase. H2: As perceptions of cultural threat increase, restrictionist immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will increase. H3: The effect of partisanship on immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will be mediated by perceptions of labour market competition and cultural threat. H4: The effect of the percentage of local-area immigrants on immigration (and refugee) policy attitudes will be mediated by perceptions of labour market competition and cultural threat. 4. Data and methods To test these hypotheses in the contemporary Canadian context, data from the 2015 Focus Canada survey conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research are well suited. Survey data collection was conducted via a nationally representative, probability-based telephone survey employing a dual-frame (landline plus mobile phone) sample design. Overall, 2,003 interviews were completed across all 10 provinces from the 3rd to the 18th of June 2015. In addition to providing a large representative sample and a questionnaire focused on attitudes toward multiculturalism, immigration and refugee policy, and voting intentions, these data have the added benefit of being well-timed: the Syrian refugee crisis was being prominently covered in the Canadian and international news media in mid-2015 and media speculation about when the official election period would begin was increasing (with the date of the election set as 19 October 2015 by law, it remained only a question of when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper would seek to dissolve Parliament, officially beginning the election campaign). This context served to increase the salience of immigration and refugee policy, as well as potential party cues. The key measure of attitudes toward immigration policy asks respondents to rate their level of agreement with the statement that ‘[o]verall, there is too much immigration to Canada’. This survey item thus captures the continuum from closed or restrictionist attitudes toward immigration (on the one hand) to open or incorporationist attitudes (on the other). The Environics Institute data suggest that Canadian public opinion on immigration is divided. While a thin majority of the Canadian public (57 per cent) disagree that there is too much immigration, 38 per cent agree (see Table 1). These results align broadly with other evidence showing that the Canadian public is generally positively inclined—but not overwhelmingly so—in its attitudes toward immigration (Banting 2010). Table 1. Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% Table 1. Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugee policy Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% Too much immigration Favour–oppose Canada accepting refugees Strongly agree 16% Strongly favour 11% Somewhat agree 22% Somewhat favour 29% Somewhat disagree 33% Somewhat oppose 25% Strongly disagree 25% Strongly oppose 25% With respect to Canadians’ attitudes toward refugees, the key survey item asks respondents to state the degree to which they ‘favour or oppose Canada accepting political refugees who do not qualify for immigration to Canada by the normal procedures’. Here, the survey item wording emphasizes that refugees are fleeing political persecution of some kind, and that the typical immigration procedures for economic migrants and family reunification do not apply. When asked for their attitudes toward accepting refugees, the Canadian public is again seen to be divided: 40 per cent favour accepting refugees, while one half (50 per cent) oppose (see Table 1). Though the immigration and refugee policy survey items both measure Canadians’ acceptance (or lack of acceptance) of newcomers, they are distinct on their faces in terms of measuring restrictionist attitudes toward (legal) immigration, and acceptance of refugees, respectively. Empirically, they exhibit only a modest negative association (Pearson’s r: –0.30, Tau B: –0.26, Gamma: –0.35). This implies a limited degree of conceptual overlap. To measure perceptions of labour market competition (or more broadly economic threat), the Environics Institute data provide a ready measure in an item that asks respondents whether they agree or disagree that ‘immigrants take away jobs from other Canadians’. The survey data suggest that perceptions of labour market competition are not particularly widespread among the Canadian public: 30 per cent agree that immigrants take away jobs; 68 per cent disagree (see Table 2). These perceptions of economic threat stand in contrast to perceptions of cultural (or symbolic) threat. The Environics Institute survey asks respondents whether they agree or disagree that ‘[t]here are too many immigrants coming into this country who are not adopting Canadian values’. While not specifying the content of ‘Canadian values’, this survey item nevertheless captures the belief (or not) that immigrants to Canada hold values that differ from mainstream Canadian society. The survey data indicate that feelings of cultural threat are fairly widespread, with 65 per cent of the Canadian public expressing agreement, and 30 per cent expressing disagreement (see Table 2). This result aligns with the level of perceived cultural threat among the Canadian public reported by Breton (2015). Table 2. Canadian attitudes toward labour market competition and cultural threat Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% Table 2. Canadian attitudes toward labour market competition and cultural threat Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% Immigrants take away jobs Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values Strongly agree 11% 34% Somewhat agree 19% 31% Somewhat disagree 37% 19% Strongly disagree 31% 11% In addition to these attitudinal measures, the Environics Institute data also include measures of vote intent for the 2015 federal election. In the absence of a question asking directly about party identification, vote intent serves (by default) as a proxy measure of partisanship. It is important to emphasize here that it is a valid and usable proxy. Vote choice has been used as a proxy by Wilkes and colleagues (2008) in studying Canadian immigration attitudes. Previous research on Canadian political behaviour has also repeatedly confirmed a strong association between party identification and party vote choice—though to be sure, other factors such as party leader evaluations and judgments of party performance also shape vote choice (Blais et al. 2001; Stephenson et al. 2004; Clarke et al. 2011, 2017). Other data collected in the same time period provide further confirmation of the strong relationship between party identification and vote choice. The campaign period survey of the 2015 Canadian Election Study yields a Pearson contingency coefficient of 0.79 for the relationship between party identification and vote choice (see Appendix 6 in the online supplementary material). In sum, vote intent is a reasonable proxy of partisanship in the Canadian case, though following the discussion above, partisanship remains the concept of interest. Also, the Environics Institute survey data include a range of demographic variables: sex, age, education, income, region, and mother tongue (see the online supplementary material for full details of question wording, data coding, and descriptive statistics). A common strategy in the study of immigration attitudes is to subset one’s data to examine only native-born majority-group members—for example, non-Hispanic whites in the American context (Newman and Velez 2014; Gravelle 2016). Applied to Canada, one might examine the attitudes of white, non-immigrant English- and French-speakers. The Environics Institute data do not, however, provide information on respondents’ racial, ethnic, or immigration background, precluding such a strategy. This is likely of little practical consequence: previous research in the Canadian context has found little effect of being Canadian-born (or not) on support for immigration (Palmer 1996; Mulder and Krahn 2005). Some previous research on Canada has used mother tongue (specifically non-English/non-French) as a proxy for immigration status, yet the effect of mother tongue on immigration attitudes is inconsistent and typically null (Wilkes et al. 2008; Bilodeau et al. 2012). In light of these previous findings, it is reasonable to analyse the full sample data while controlling for mother tongue (using English as the baseline category, with indicators for French and a synthetic ‘Other’ category). Though Environics data from previous years have been used elsewhere to explore Canadians’ immigration attitudes (see Wilkes and Corrigall-Brown 2011), a novel aspect of the analyses of the 2015 Environics Institute data presented here is the augmentation of the survey data with local area demographic characteristics; specifically, the percentage of immigrants at the Census Subdivision (CSD) level for the year 2011 (CSDs are generally coterminous with Canadian municipalities). These demographic data originate from the 2011 CensusPlus database from Environics Analytics. These area characteristics are matched to survey respondents using the CSD codes and municipality names included in the telephone sample records and retained in the survey dataset.2 To retain all cases in the statistical analyses and avoid biasing parameter estimates by analysing only complete cases, multiple imputation (MI) routines are used to impute missing survey data (Allison 2001; Little and Rubin 2002). Ordinal logit models are then fitted to these multiply-imputed datasets. These model the probabilities of lower-ordered response categories as cumulative over the probabilities of a higher-ordered response (Fox 2008). Models were fitted using procedures that account for the complex sample design of the data, and then combined using procedures for multiply imputed data originally advanced by Rubin (1987) to produce the final estimates.3 In anticipation of mediated relationships as presented in H3 and H4, path analysis in a structural equation modelling (SEM) framework is also used (Kline 2015). 5. Results and discussion Several interesting findings emerge from the regression analysis. Examining first Canadians’ attitudes toward immigration, the results from model 1.1 indicate that Conservative supporters are significantly more likely to agree that there is too much immigration to Canada (compared to Liberal supporters, the reference category). There is also a negative effect of NDP vote intent, though significant only at the p ≤ 0.10 level (see Table 3). The effect of Bloc Québécois support does not approach statistical significance (though no hypothesis was advanced relating to Bloc support, in anticipation of the small sample of Bloc voters in the data). In sum, the data generally support the theoretical expectations linking partisanship to immigration attitudes: Conservatives are the most restrictionist in outlook, NDP supporters are the least restrictionist, while Liberal identifiers hold an in-between position. All else equal, the predicted probability of agreeing that there are too many immigrants in Canada is 0.54 for Conservative Party supporters, 0.43 for Liberal Party supporters, 0.37 for NDP supporters, and 0.51 for Bloc Québécois supporters.4 In addition, model 1.1 indicates that Canadians’ immigration attitudes bear the imprint of demographic context: higher percentages of immigrants at the local (CSD) level result in a statistically significant decrease in beliefs that there is too much immigration to Canada. All else equal, increasing local immigrant concentration from the first percentile (0.2 per cent) to the 99th percentile (52.6 per cent) is associated with a decrease in the predicted probability of agreeing that there is too much immigration from 0.56 to 0.37. This result aligns with some of the empirical findings relating to American and European immigration attitudes, where higher immigrant or ethnic minority concentrations decrease restrictionist immigration attitudes (Hood and Morris 1997; McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Gravelle 2016). It is important to note that these results hold even after controlling for other relevant factors, such as age, education, region, and mother tongue. Table 3. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (ordinal logit) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Ordinal logit (proportional odds) models with standard errors adjusted for the complex sample design. Missing data are imputed 10 times. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. Table 3. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (ordinal logit) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Model 1.1 Model 1.2 Model 2.1 Model 2.2 b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs — 3.79 (0.22)*** — –0.78 (0.19)*** Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values — 2.57 (0.24)*** — –1.54 (0.20)*** Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.42 (0.14)** 0.09 (0.16) –0.32 (0.15)* –0.11 (0.15)     NDP –0.23 (0.14)† –0.19 (0.14) 0.39 (0.14)** 0.35 (0.15)*     BQ 0.32 (0.26) 0.15 (0.27) 0.11 (0.25) 0.17 (0.26)     Other –0.01 (0.23) –0.14 (0.25) 0.15 (0.25) 0.23 (0.27)     Would not vote 0.20 (0.21) 0.13 (0.22) 0.06 (0.27) 0.16 (0.27) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.20 (0.08)** 0.02 (0.08) 0.23 (0.08)** 0.16 (0.08)† Model χ2 201.82*** 1,287.66*** 185.63*** 393.66*** Nagelkerke pseudo-R2 0.10 0.51 0.10 0.19 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Ordinal logit (proportional odds) models with standard errors adjusted for the complex sample design. Missing data are imputed 10 times. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. The results presented in model 1.1, however, are not conditioned on the effects of perceptions of economic or cultural threat. Measures of these concepts are added in model 1.2. Both exert strong effects, and increase restrictionist immigration attitudes, confirming H1 and H2. Further, the magnitudes of the coefficients for perceptions of labour market competition and cultural threat indicate that the realistic threat of competition for jobs exerts a greater effect on immigration attitudes than the symbolic threat to Canadian culture.5 This contrasts with previous research on American and European immigration attitudes, which has found that cultural threat is pre-eminent (Chandler and Tsai 2001; McLaren 2003). Translating the results into predicted probabilities again allows us to be concrete. Moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that immigrants take jobs is associated with an increase in the predicted probability of agreeing that there is too much immigration from 0.11 to 0.85. By comparison, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values is associated with an increase in the predicted probability of agreeing that there is too much immigration from 0.09 to 0.57. At the same time, neither partisanship nor local immigrant concentration continue to have statistically significant effects on immigration attitudes, after controlling for the realistic and symbolic aspects of group threat. These results point to the mediating roles of perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Thus, the results of model 1.2 also offer tentative support for H3 and H4. Turning to Canadians’ attitudes toward refugee policy, similar patterns emerge (see Table 3). In model 2.1, there are again significant effects for vote intent, with Conservative supporters less likely to favour accepting political refugees and NDP supporters more likely to favour accepting them (compared to Liberal supporters). Again, there is no significant effect of Bloc Québécois support. The predicted probabilities of favouring (either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’) the acceptance of refugees are, all else equal, 0.31 for Conservative Party supporters, 0.38 for Liberal Party supporters, 0.48 for NDP supporters, and 0.41 for Bloc Québécois supporters. These results reconfirm the more restrictionist orientation of Conservative supporters and the more open orientation of NDP supporters vis-à-vis migration policy (compared to Liberal supporters) and accord with theoretical expectations. Model 2.1 also suggests an effect of local context, with higher immigrant concentration serving to increase support for accepting political refugees. Again increasing local immigrant concentration from the first percentile (0.2 per cent) to the 99th percentile (52.6 per cent) while holding other independent variables constant, the predicted probability of being in favour of accepting refugees increases from 0.26 to 0.46. This effect of local immigrant concentration again remains significant after conditioning on the effects of vote intent, age, education, region, and mother tongue. Still, the results in model 2.1 do not account for the effects of group threat. Though less closely related conceptually to refugee policy than immigration policy, labour market competition and cultural threat are nevertheless relevant to attitudes toward refugee policy in that they capture anxieties driven by external, migration-inducing forces, whether such migration is driven by ‘pull’ or ‘push’ factors (that is, economic opportunities for migrants, or forced population movements). As empirical matter, their importance is clear, since their introduction in model 2.2 yields highly significant (and negative) effects on attitudes towards accepting refugees. These results thus support H1 and H2. What is more, after controlling for beliefs that immigrants take away jobs and do not adopt Canadian values, Conservative support no longer exerts a significant effect. NDP identification, however, continues to exert a positive effect on attitudes toward accepting refugees. While model 2.1 exhibited a significant positive effect of local area immigrant concentration, this effect is weakened in model 2.2, becoming significant only at the p ≤ 0.10 level. Overall, these results suggest (at least) partial mediation of the effects of partisanship and local immigrant concentration on attitudes toward accepting refugees by perceptions of economic and cultural threat. They therefore offer support for H3 and H4. Also, while economic threat exerted a stronger effect on immigration attitudes, cultural threat exerts a stronger effect on attitudes toward refugees.6 Specifically, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that immigrants take jobs results in a decrease in the predicted probability of favouring the acceptance of refugees from 0.46 to 0.28. By contrast, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement with the statement that too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values produces a decrease in the predicted probability of favouring the acceptance of refugees from 0.63 to 0.26. Given that the results of the ordinal logit models suggest the mediation of the effects of partisanship and local context on immigration and refugee policy attitudes by perceptions of economic and cultural threat, mediation should be tested directly. Path analysis in a structural equation modelling (SEM) framework allows for such tests. The path model specifies three sets of relationships: (1) paths from party support and local context to both economic and cultural threat; (2) paths from party support and local context to immigration and refugee policy attitudes; and (3) paths from economic and cultural threat to immigration and refugee policy attitudes (see Figure 1). Thus, the path model tests direct effects (e.g. the effect of local context on economic threat, or economic threat on immigration attitudes), indirect effects (e.g. the effect of local context on immigration attitudes via economic threat) and total effects (the sum of direct and indirect effects) (Kline 2015). Since mediation models involving ordinal data are not well developed, these tests rely on a linear structural equation model.7 (One might also examine the effects of partisanship and local context on both perceptions of economic and cultural threat in a second set of ordinal logit models. These are reported as Models 3 and 4 in the online Appendix.) The results from the path model reconfirm that heightened perceptions of both economic and cultural threat lead to stronger agreement that there is too much immigration to Canada, and lower support for accepting refugees (in these cases, the estimates of the total and direct effects are the same, as they do not involve mediation). Specifically, they indicate that moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement that immigrants take away jobs is associated with an increase of 1.48 scale points, from 1.74 to 3.22 (on a 1–4 scale) on the restrictionist immigration policy question. The same movement from strong disagreement to strong agreement on the question measuring cultural threat is associated with an increase of 0.88 points, from 1.72 to 2.60. By comparison, with respect to the acceptance of refugees, moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement that immigrants take away jobs is associated with a decrease of 0.36 scale points in acceptance from 2.38 to 2.02; moving from strong disagreement to strong agreement on the cultural threat measure is associated with a decrease of 0.71 points from 2.70 to 1.99. These results confirm once more the greater importance of realistic group threat (in the form of labour market competition) to immigration policy attitudes, and the greater importance of the symbolic dimension of group threat in shaping attitudes toward refugees.8 Still, both are relevant. As for the effects of partisanship on immigration policy, the path model again shows no direct effect of either Conservative Party or NDP support; that is, after controlling for the effects of perceptions of economic and cultural threat. The total effect of Conservative support (0.23), however, is positive and highly significant. There is also a weak negative total effect of NDP support (–0.12). As for the effects of partisanship on accepting refugees, there is a significant (negative) total effect of Conservative Party support (–0.16), and significant (positive) total effect of NDP support (0.21). These results again align with those from the ordinal logit models. In sum, there continue to be important (total) effects of party support on immigration and refugee policy attitudes despite the absence of direct effects. The effect of partisanship is transmitted via perceptions of realistic and symbolic threat (see Table 4 and the online Appendix). Table 4. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (path model) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Just-identified (saturated) path model, with all variables predicting immigration and refugee attitudes, and exogenous variables predicting perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Model includes correlated disturbances between immigration and refugee policy attitude items, and between perceptions of economic and cultural threat items. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, and mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. Table 4. Explaining Canadian attitudes toward immigration and refugees (path model) Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 Too much immigration to Canada Favour accepting refugees Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects Total effects Direct effects Indirect effects b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) b (SE) Immigrants take away jobs 1.48 (0.06)*** 1.48 (0.06)*** — –0.36 (0.08)*** –0.36 (0.08)*** — Too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values 0.88 (0.07)*** 0.88 (0.07)*** — –0.71 (0.08)*** –0.71 (0.08)*** — Vote intent (ref = Liberal)     Conservative 0.23 (0.07)*** 0.04 (0.06) 0.18 (0.05)*** –0.16 (0.07)* –0.06 (0.07) –0.10 (0.02)***     NDP –0.12 (0.06)† –0.06 (0.05) –0.05 (0.04) 0.21 (0.07)** 0.17 (0.07)* 0.04 (0.02)†     BQ 0.18 (0.12) 0.11 (0.10) 0.07 (0.08) 0.06 (0.12) 0.07 (0.12) –0.02 (0.04)     Other 0.01 (0.10) –0.06 (0.09) 0.06 (0.07) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.12) –0.03 (0.03)     Would not vote 0.14 (0.10) 0.04 (0.07) 0.10 (0.06) 0.05 (0.12) 0.09 (0.12) –0.05 (0.03) Local area immigrant percentage, 2011 (logged) –0.10 (0.03)** 0.00 (0.03) –0.11 (0.02)*** 0.11 (0.04)** 0.07 (0.04)† 0.05 (0.01)*** R2 0.46 0.17 N = 2,003; †p ≤ 0.10; * p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01; *** p ≤ 0.001. Note: Just-identified (saturated) path model, with all variables predicting immigration and refugee attitudes, and exogenous variables predicting perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Model includes correlated disturbances between immigration and refugee policy attitude items, and between perceptions of economic and cultural threat items. Results for controls (sex, age, education, income, region, and mother tongue, and percentage point change (2001–11) in local area immigrant context, logged) are shown in the online supplementary material. The path model results similarly reconfirm the effects of local immigrant context on immigration and refugee policy attitudes. While the local area immigrant percentage has no direct effect on attitudes toward immigration and only a weak positive effect on accepting refugees, there are significant total effects in each case: higher immigrant concentration at the local level decreases beliefs that there is too much immigration and also increases acceptance of refugees. Specifically, increasing local immigrant concentration from the first percentile (0.2 per cent) to the 99th percentile (52.6 per cent) is associated with a decrease of 0.39 scale points from 2.54 to 2.15 on the immigration policy question, and an increase of 0.43 points from 1.96 to 2.39 on the refugee acceptance question. As with partisanship, local immigrant context matters for public attitudes toward accepting immigrants and refugees even in the absence of direct effects. The likely mechanism is that individuals in diverse locales (and by implication more accustomed to cultural diversity) are less likely to experience feelings of economic or cultural threat.9 These findings parallel those from the USA and the UK relating to local ethnic and foreign-born populations to immigration attitudes (Hood and Morris 1997; McLaren 2003; Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Kaufmann 2017). Further, they reconfirm that local immigrant context is substantively important, in that its effects on immigration and refugee policy attitudes are transmitted via perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Local context, like party support, is simply further back in the causal sequence. 6. Conclusion Canadians’ attitudes toward immigration policy have been relatively understudied, and their attitudes toward refugees even more so. At the same time, the 2015 federal election highlighted the importance of understanding Canadians’ attitudes toward these policy domains. This article tested hypotheses relating to the effects of partisanship, local context, the realistic threat of labour market competition, and the symbolic threat of culturally unfamiliar newcomers using data from the Environics Institute collected in mid-2015, a period during which the incorporation and accommodation of newcomers to Canada were highly salient political issues. The findings presented here demonstrate that partisanship, local immigrant context, perceptions of economic threat, and perceptions of cultural threat all play roles in shaping attitudes toward immigration policy and refugee policy. To summarize, Conservative Party supporters, those residing in areas with low concentrations of immigrants, and those with heightened perceptions of economic and cultural threat are most likely to express restrictionist attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. NDP supporters, those residing in areas with high concentrations of immigrants, and those perceiving little economic or cultural threat are least likely to express restrictionist attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. Importantly, the effects of partisanship and local context are (largely) mediated by perceptions of economic and cultural threat. Further, the results indicate that perceptions of economic (or realistic) group threat play a greater role in shaping attitudes towards immigration policy. By contrast, perceptions of cultural (or symbolic) group threat play a greater role in shaping attitudes toward accepting refugees. These results suggest that not all out-groups provoke the same type or magnitude of threat—a conjecture deserving further exploration in future research. While the findings presented here point to perceptions of threat as the most important, proximate causes of restrictionist immigration and refugee policy attitudes, perceptions of threat are in turn shaped by partisanship and local immigrant concentration. A complete understanding of immigration and refugee policy attitudes, therefore, must account for both politics and place. This article offers insight into the factors shaping Canadians’ attitudes towards welcoming newcomers, yet other avenues of inquiry ought to be pursued. The analyses of local context undertaken here took Census Subdivisions (or municipalities) as measures of local context, yet this is far from the only possible level at which context might be measured (cf. Bilodeau et al. 2012). Given appropriate survey data with high-resolution geographic indicators, even more granular measures of local context could be examined, allowing for a comparison of effects operating at ‘micro’ as well as ‘meso’ levels: what is happening on one’s street or block (on the one hand) and in one’s town, city, or metropolitan area (on the other) might affect one’s attitudes in different ways (Kaufmann and Harris 2015). To facilitate such analyses, survey researchers will need to collect (and disseminate) very local-level geographic indicators. Having such data available will assist in pursuing a deeper understanding of the interplay between political orientations, perceptions of material interests, perceptions of symbolic threats, and socio-demographic context as they bear on attitudes toward immigrants and refugees in modern democracies. Footnotes 1. A common critique of the literature on contextual models of political behaviour relates to the prospect of selection bias. In the present case, the critique is that the relationship between local context and immigration attitudes may be due to individuals with pro-immigrant (or anti-immigrant) attitudes selecting into (or out of) areas of high immigrant concentration, rather than a true effect of local context on immigration attitudes. Recent research on immigration attitudes in the USA (Hopkins 2010) and the UK (Kaufmann and Harris 2015; Kaufmann 2017) address this objection by employing longitudinal data, finding that the direction of the relationship is from local context to immigration attitudes and not the reverse. Other research on immigration attitudes argues that the key dynamic is not local demographic context as such, but rather (or also) change in the local context over time: rapid growth in the minority or foreign born population at the local level increases restrictionist attitudes (Hopkins 2010; Newman 2013; Newman and Velez 2014; Kaufmann 2017). Tested against these Canadian data, however, percentage point change in local immigrant context (calculated from demographic estimates from 2001 and 2011) has no statistically significant effect on immigration policy or refugee policy attitudes. Still, percentage point change (logged) in local area immigrant context is included in the models as a control. Full results are reported in the online supplementary material. 2. Another question relates to whether the concentration of immigrants from all countries of origin is the right measure of context. Here, it is worth noting that no one country or region is predominant as a source of immigration in the contemporary Canadian case, with the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, the USA, and the UK currently comprising the top seven countries (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2015). This provides a clear contrast with the American case, where Mexico has in the past 50 years provided more immigrants to the USA than the next seven countries combined: China, India, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and El Salvador (Pew Research Center 2015). Further, some readers might see a multilevel (or hierarchical) model as necessary given the hypotheses involving contextual effects at the CSD (or municipality) level. This is not strictly the case. Properly considered, multilevel analysis assumes a multilevel data generating process—e.g. a random sample of clusters (CSDs), and random sampling within clusters (Hox 2010; West et al. 2014). As a nationally representative probability sample with respondents selected without regard to clustering, the Environics Institute data are not a multi-stage sample. Thus, the analyses presented here are appropriately ‘single-level’ contextual analyses (following Books and Prysby 1991). 3. Multiple imputation of missing data was performed using IVEWare version 0.1 for SAS (Raghunathan et al. 2001; Raghunathan 2015) which implements multivariate sequential regression (or chained equations) to impute data that are missing due to non-response, and is able to impute both continuous and categorical data. Ten imputations were created. Ordinal logit models were fit to the multiply imputed data using SAS PROC SURVEYLOGISTIC, with estimates then combined using SAS PROC MIANALYZE to produce the final reported results. 4. Predicted probabilities are calculated directly from the reported model coefficients, setting all continuous independent variables to their means, and categorical independent variables to their reference categories. That is, they assume a female, 44.9 year old, Ontario-resident English-speaker, and calculate the cumulative predicted probability of agreeing (‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’) that there is too much immigration to Canada, and favouring accepting refugees (either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’). 5. The test of the equality the coefficients is statistically significant (χ2 = 12.22, d.f. = 1, p < 0.001). This confirms that the economic threat coefficient is greater than the cultural threat coefficient in the case of immigration attitudes. 6. The test of the equality the coefficients is again statistically significant (χ2 = 7.62, d.f. = 1, p < 0.01). This confirms that the cultural threat coefficient is greater than the economic threat coefficient in the case of attitudes toward refugees. 7. Path models were fitted to the multiply imputed data using SAS PROC CALIS, with estimates again combined using SAS PROC MIANALYZE to produce the final reported results. 8. Separate tests of the equality of the path model coefficients for economic and cultural threat (using linear constraints) are statistically significant for both dependent variables: immigration policy attitudes (χ2 = 35.73, d.f. = 1, p < 0.001), and attitudes toward refugees (χ2 = 8.64, d.f. = 1, p < 0.01). These results reconfirm that perceptions of economic threat exert a greater effect on immigration policy attitudes, while perceptions of cultural threat exert a greater effect on acceptance of refugees. 9. It is worth noting that while local immigrant percentage (logged) is negatively associated with both economic and cultural threat, percentage point change (2001–2011, logged) is positively associated with perceptions of economic and cultural threat (cf. Kaufmann 2017; Newman and Velez 2014). See Appendix 4 in the online materials. Results from the path model, however, indicate that these effects are not transmitted to immigration and refugee policy attitudes, as the total effects of change in immigrant concentration are statistically insignificant. See Appendix 5 in the online materials. Acknowledgements Previous versions of this article were presented at the 2016 Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Austin, Texas, and the 2016 Annual Conference of the Canadian Political Science Association in Calgary, Alberta. I would like to thank Keith Neuman of the Environics Institute for Survey Research for access to the survey data analysed in this article. I would also like to thank Thomas Scotto of the University of Strathclyde and Carol Gravelle of Mount Saint Vincent University for their helpful comments. References Abrajano M. , Hajnal Z. ( 2015 ) White Backlash: Immigration, Race and American Politics . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . 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Migration StudiesOxford University Press

Published: Sep 23, 2017

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