Attitudes towards asylum seekers in small local communities in the Netherlands

Aslan Zorlu, University of Amsterdam

The admission and location of asylum seekers has a central place in public discourse in Western countries, amid mounting asylum applications and dire humanitarian crises. Receiving countries usually distribute the newly arriving asylum seekers across the entire country, in particular in small remote communities. Incidental opposition actions by local residents against the siting of Asylum Seeker Centers (ASC) have created the impression of strong and widespread resistance. This paper aims to assess this backlash by examining attitudes towards asylum seekers in small local communities. Using the data from three representative surveys conducted among residents in the vicinity of four ASCs in the Netherlands, the analysis shows a strikingly high willingness to host an ASC, which stands in opposition to popularly assumed public opinion. Positive attitudes towards asylum seekers are associated with higher education levels and indicators of economic affluence as well as contact with asylum seekers in public space. Negative attitudes are strongly correlated with a personal negative experience with asylum seekers, a strong national orientation, perceived threats to Dutch culture as well as perceived economic benefits of ASCs.

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Presented in Session 90: Integration challenges of forced migration