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Kratz, Fabian (2021): Do Concerns about Immigration Change after Adolescence? How Education and Critical Life Events Affect Concerns about Immigration. In: European Sociological Review, Vol. 37, No. 6: pp. 987-1006

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This study investigates whether critical life events that typically occur during early adulthood (i.e., labor market entry, unemployment, parenthood) impact concerns about immigration. Two mechanisms suggest that these critical life events lead to a widening of education-specific differences: First, the amplification of ethnic competition following critical life events may be more pronounced for individuals with low educational attainment. Second, psychological adaptation processes of individuals with low levels of education may more frequently result in scapegoating. These mechanisms provide a rationale for the education-as-buffer hypothesis, according to which individuals with lower educational attainment are more prone to exhibit increasing concerns about immigration following critical life events. Estimations of distributed fixed effects models relying on data from the German SocioEconomic Panel Study (1999-2017) show that labor market entry, unemployment, and parenthood increase concerns about immigration more strongly for individuals with low educational attainment. Replicating significant impact differences between educational groups for the three critical life events makes a strong case for the education-as-buffer hypothesis. Overall, this study demonstrates that concerns about immigration are responsive to critical life events and calls for further theorizing as to how educational attainment may shape attitudes towards immigration over the life course.

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