Letter

Europeans support a proportional allocation of asylum seekers

  • Nature Human Behaviour 1, Article number: 0133 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0133
  • Download Citation
Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

Abstract

What type of common asylum regime would Europeans support? We conducted a survey asking 18,000 citizens of 15 European countries about their preferences regarding different mechanisms for allocating asylum seekers across countries. A large majority supports an allocation that is proportional to each country’s capacity over the status quo policy of allocation based on the country of first entry. This majority support is weakened but persists even among a randomly assigned subset of respondents who were made aware that moving to proportional allocation would increase the number of asylum seekers allocated to their own country. These results suggest that citizens care deeply about the fairness of the responsibility-sharing mechanism, rather than only the consequences of the asylum policy. The findings also highlight a potential pathway towards reform of the Common European Asylum System.

Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.

References

  1. 1.

    Operational Portal Refugee Situations: Mediterranean Situation (UNHCR, 2016);

  2. 2.

    The Principle of Legal Certainty in EC Law (Kluwer Academic, 2003).

  3. 3.

    & “Dublin II Regulation: Lives on Hold”—European Comparative Report (European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2013);

  4. 4.

    , & Sharing Responsibility for Refugee Protection in Europe: Dublin Reconsidered (European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2008).

  5. 5.

    Asylum destination choice. What makes some West European countries more attractive than others? Eur. Union Polit. 5, 155–180 (2004).

  6. 6.

    & Reframing solidarity in europe: frontex, frontiers, and the fallacy of refugee quota. Lancet Public Health 2, e10–e11 (2016).

  7. 7.

    Between interests and norms: explaining burden-sharing in the European Union. J. Refug. Stud. 16, 253–273 (2003).

  8. 8.

    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A European Agenda on Migration (European Commission, 2015);

  9. 9.

    Burden-sharing during refugee emergencies: the logic of collective versus national action. J. Refug. Stud. 11, 396–415 (1998).

  10. 10.

    Public goods theory and the provision of refugee protection: the role of the joint-product model in burden sharing theory. J. Refug. Stud. 16, 274–296 (2003).

  11. 11.

    & The myth of free-riding: refugee protection and implicit burden-sharing. West Eur. Polit. 29, 351–369 (2006).

  12. 12.

    Public Attitudes Toward Immigration in the United States, France, and Germany (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000).

  13. 13.

    Threatened by diversity: why restrictive asylum and immigration policies appeal to Western Europeans. J. Elect. Public Opin. Parties 15, 21–45 (2005).

  14. 14.

    , & Europeans fear wave of refugees will mean more terrorism, fewer jobs. Pew Research Center (11 July 2016);

  15. 15.

    , & How economic, humanitarian, and religious concerns shape European attitudes toward asylum seekers. Science 354, 217–222 (2016).

  16. 16.

    & Mass support for global climate agreements depends on institutional design. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 13763–13768 (2013).

  17. 17.

    Entropy balancing for causal effects: a multivariate reweighting method to produce balanced samples in observational studies. Polit. Anal. 20, 25–46 (2011).

  18. 18.

    in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed.Zalta, E. N.) (The Metaphysics Research Lab, 2011);

  19. 19.

    in Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare Vol. 1 (eds Arrow, K., Sen, A. K. & Suzumura, K.) 289–357 (Elsevier, 2002).

  20. 20.

    & Dividing justly in bargaining problems with claims. Soc. Choice Welf. 27, 571–594 (2006).

  21. 21.

    , & On the adjudication of conflicting claims: an experimental study. Soc. Choice Welf. 34, 145–179 (2010).

  22. 22.

    & Equality preference in the claims problem: a questionnaire study of cuts in earnings and pensions. Soc. Choice Welf. 33, 533–557 (2009).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant #100017_159820), which enabled data collection, and the Ford Foundation for operational support of the Immigration Policy Lab. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. We thank T. Huddleston, D. Laitin, D. Lawrence, R. Reich and J. Spirig for helpful advice.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Immigration Policy Lab, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA, and ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.

    • Kirk Bansak
    • , Jens Hainmueller
    •  & Dominik Hangartner
  2. Department of Political Science, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

    • Kirk Bansak
    • , Jens Hainmueller
    •  & Dominik Hangartner
  3. Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

    • Jens Hainmueller
  4. Center for Comparative and International Studies, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.

    • Dominik Hangartner
  5. Department of Government, London School of Economics, London WC2A 2AE, UK.

    • Dominik Hangartner

Authors

  1. Search for Kirk Bansak in:

  2. Search for Jens Hainmueller in:

  3. Search for Dominik Hangartner in:

Contributions

K.B., J.H. and D.H. conceived the research, designed the analyses, conducted the analyses and wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dominik Hangartner.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary Tables (1–30), Supplementary Figures 1–7, Supplementary References