Research on the relationship between immigration-related diversity and public attitudes to immigration generally focuses on contemporary levels of (or recent changes in) diversity. Drawing on the political socialization literature, this paper argues that by ignoring the effect of diversity during early socialization years, existing research fails to fully understand longterm trends in attitudes to immigration. Applying a generational change perspective to the British sample of the European Social Survey (2002-2017), along with two innovative approaches to modeling generational differences - generalized additive models (GAMs) and hierarchical age‒period‒cohort (HAPC) models - we are able to investigate attitudes among groups of birth cohorts socialized between 1935 and 2010. The findings show that younger cohorts are systematically more positive about immigration. These increasingly positive attitudes are related to a macro-context of higher diversity in younger cohorts’ early years. This effect may, however, be diminished by a context of high income inequality during the formative years.
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Lauren McLaren, Anja Neundorf, and Ian Paterson
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