Does Migration Matter for the Willingness to Adapt to New Attitudes? Evidence from the MIFARE Project.

by Troels Fage Hedegaard (MIFARE) & Hidde Bekhuis (MIFARE)

In a number of recent articles migration has been used to study the mechanisms of attitude formation. For instance, Breidahl and Larsen (2016) show, using the European Social Survey (ESS), that migrants adapt quite rapidly to the gender values of their new recipient countries. Studies from the field of psychology, however, suggest that the process of acculturation (i.e. attitude adaption), might be affected by migrants being in a particular situation. It might be the case that migrating makes people more willing to change attitudes or that the people who chose to migrate are more willing to adapt their attitudes in the first place. If such a ‘migration effect’ exists, then the conclusions on the more general mechanisms of attitude formation based on migration studies have to be rethought. To test this we need compare a group who migrated willingly with one who ‘migrated’ unwillingly. The latter group is identified, via the ESS, by studying the Russian diaspora left behind, in Estonia, Latvia and the Ukraine. The willing migrants are the Russian migrants in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands from the MIFARE survey. By combining the two surveys we show that there are no differences in acculturation between the diaspora in the East and the migrants in the West and therefore no ‘migration effect’ on acculturation.

Figure: Russian migrant populations in Western countries and select former Soviet states.
Note: The Western countries highlighted in red are Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. The countries highlighted in blue are Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine.

The full open access article is published in Comparative Migration Studies 2018 6:9