ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

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.
Content may be subject to copyright.
1
LETTERS
PUBLISHED: 26 JUNE 2017 | VOLUME: 1 | ARTICLE NUMBER: 0133
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR 1, 0133 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0133 | www.nature.com/nhumbehav
Europeans support a proportional allocation of
asylum seekers
Kirk Bansak1,
2, Jens Hainmueller1,
2,
3 and Dominik Hangartner1, 4,
5*
What type of common asylum regime would Europeans sup-
port? We conducted a survey asking 18,000 citizens of 15
European countries about their preferences regarding dif-
ferent mechanisms for allocating asylum seekers across
countries. A large majority supports an allocation that is pro-
portional to each country’s capacity over the status quo policy
of allocation based on the country of first entry. This major-
ity 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 num-
ber 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.
As Europe faces the most severe refugee crisis since World War
II, reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) has
emerged as an urgent policy challenge for European governments.
With more than 1.3 million new asylum claims lodged in Europe
in 2015 alone1, policymakers are struggling to design robust and
fair asylum policies that honour international commitments and
treaties, such as the 1951 Refugee Convention, and also inspire
domestic public support. The crisis increasingly threatens the social
cohesion of many European countries and has called into doubt the
ability of democratic governments to collaborate in providing effec-
tive humanitarian protection for refugees.
One of the main reasons why the refugee crisis has become so
intractable is the lack of a fair responsibility-sharing mechanism
involving all countries that are part of the Dublin Regulation, which
determines the allocation of asylum applications across mem-
ber states. By ‘Dublin countries, we refer to all European Union
member states that currently apply the Dublin Regulation, as well
as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which are part
of the European Free Trade Association. Denmark has a separate
but similar agreement with the European Union. Under the cur-
rent Dublin Regulation, which is a binding law for all member
states of the European Union, the first Dublin country an asylum
seeker enters is responsible for registering the asylum claim. Since
its inception, this allocation rule has been criticized for creating a
disproportionate burden for the external border countries of the
European Union, where most asylum seekers first arrive2–4. Within
the constraints of the Dublin Regulation, governments also have
other policy tools and opt-out clauses within European Union
immigration and asylum law to influence the number of asylum
applications they receive, which further compounds the problem
of unequal allocation5. In the face of the current crisis, the Dublin
system has buckled under the rapid increase in asylum applications,
leading to chaos and the trapping of refugees in limbo6. The fall-
out has included considerable costs for the European economies,
particularly the temporary suspensions of the Schengen Agreement
and re-installation of border controls by some countries.
As a result, there has been intense pressure to reform the CEAS,
and some have proposed moving to a proportional allocation mech-
anism whereby asylum seekers are allocated based on each country’s
capacity7,8. However, progress on this front has been slow. The allo-
cation of asylum seekers across Dublin countries presents a clas-
sic problem of international commitment and cooperation9–11. On
the one hand, member countries would collectively benefit from
coordinating humanitarian protection for refugees and avoiding the
costs that result from unregulated and often chaotic refugee flows.
On the other hand, each country individually has an incentive to
free ride and take in as few asylum seekers as possible, especially
given that policymakers seeking re-election face widespread pub-
lic backlash against government efforts to accommodate asylum
seekers. Indeed, as Fig.1 shows, across the 15 European countries
we surveyed, not a single one has a majority population willing to
accept more asylum seekers with open arms.
Despite the salience of the crisis for the public and the conten-
tious policy debates on how to reform the CEAS, we know little
about the type of common asylum regime that European voters
want. Can the Dublin countries forge a consensus, or do domestic
preferences vary so widely as to rule out any institutional reform
that would fairly allocate asylum seekers? While some scholars have
examined public attitudes towards asylum seekers in general12–15, we
are not aware of other studies that cross-nationally examine mass
attitudes on how to allocate asylum seekers in the CEAS. Moreover,
there is a general lack of evidence regarding domestic support for
the design of international institutions. This is a notable lacuna in
the social science literature given that the successful functioning of
international institutions hinges on whether their design is widely
supported by domestic voters and upholds shared norms about
equality and fairness16.
Using a large-scale survey involving 18,000 eligible voters from
national samples in 15 European countries that belong to the
CEAS, we provide evidence on mass attitudes towards European
asylum allocation. The chosen countries represent traditional,
major European Union powers, as well as new members, border
and interior countries, non-European Union countries that are
part of the CEAS, and countries with few and many asylum seek-
ers. The Methods and Supplementary Information include details
about the sample, design and statistical analysis. We used entropy
1Immigration Policy Lab, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA, and ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland. 2Department of Political Science,
Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 3Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA. 4Center for
Comparative and International Studies, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland. 5Department of Government, London School of Economics, London
WC2A 2AE, UK. *e-mail: d.hangartner@lse.ac.uk
2
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR 1, 0133 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0133 | www.nature.com/nhumbehav
LETTERS NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
balancing17 to re-weight the samples to match the age, education
and gender distributions of the populations in each country. In the
Supplementary Information, we also report the unweighted results,
which are substantively indistinguishable from the weighted results.
In our survey, we asked voters to choose between three allocation
rules. The first is the Dublin Regulation status quo, which allocates
asylum seekers based on the country of first entry. The second is a
proportional allocation that distributes asylum seekers in propor-
tion to each country’s capacity (defined by population size, gross
domestic product (GDP) and other factors). This proportional allo-
cation scheme has been proposed by the European Commission
and, as further explained below, is rooted in the fairness principle
of proportional equality. The third allocation rule is an equal alloca-
tion, under which each country receives an equal number of asylum
seekers. While this scheme has not been formally proposed in the
current asylum debate, it appeals to the related fairness principle
of numerical equality. Therefore, including this option allows us to
measure the extent to which respondents distinguish between these
two fundamental conceptions of fairness in the asylum context (see
Supplementary Information for the phrasing used in the questions).
In forming their preferences among the three allocation mecha-
nisms, respondents face a conflict between consequentialist con-
siderations and norms of distributive justice. Respondents who
care mostly about the consequences of the asylum policy will likely
prefer the allocation rule that brings the fewest asylum seekers to
their country. However, respondents might also be driven by nor-
mative considerations and care about fairness in the design of the
asylum allocation mechanism. Both the proportional and equal
allocation rules are based on fundamental principles of distribu-
tive justice. In particular, the concept of proportional allocation is
grounded in Aristotle’s celebrated maxim of proportional equality,
which stipulates, “Equals should be treated equally, and unequals,
unequally in proportion to relevant similarities and differences”
(Nicomachean Ethics). According to this principle, an allocation of
a joint burden between members of a group is considered just if
it distributes the burden in proportion to the members’ relevant
Figure 1 | Public support for increasing the number of asylum seekers. Percentage of respondents who support increasing the number of asylum seekers
in their own country for each of the 15 surveyed countries. Estimates employ sample weights. Corresponding normality-based 95% confidence intervals
are shown. Pooled n=  17,883.
Pooled
(n = 17,883)
United Kingdom
(n = 1,201)
Switzerland
(n = 1,201)
Sweden
(n = 1,183)
Spain
(n = 1,203)
Poland
(n = 1,196)
Norway
(n = 1,190)
Netherlands
(n = 1,195)
Italy
(n = 1,196)
Hungary
(n = 1,195)
Greece
(n = 1,200)
Germany
(n = 1,130)
France
(n = 1,199)
Denmark
(n = 1,192)
Czech Republic
(n = 1,200)
Austria
(n = 1,202)
025507
51
00
Percentage of respondents who support an increase in the number of asylum seekers in their own country
3
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR 1, 0133 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0133 | www.nature.com/nhumbehav
LETTERS
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
capacities. Previous research suggests that the norm of proportional
equality is often deeply ingrained in people’s understanding of
fairness in the world18–22, and we therefore expect that respondents
might be attracted to the idea that countries with higher capacities
should shoulder a larger responsibility in the asylum context. In
contrast, the equal allocation rule is grounded in the distributive
justice principle of numerical equality, which stipulates that the
allocation of a joint burden is just if members are treated equally.
The numerical equality principle—a special case of proportional
equality—may appeal to respondents because it is simple, does
not depend on a potentially arbitrary assessment of the countries’
capacities and is commonly used as a distributive fairness norm in
a vast array of policy areas, from voting rights (‘one person, one
vote’) to military conscription.
In our study, we expect that respondents’ normative and conse-
quentialist considerations act as colliding forces, and we designed
a set of randomly assigned manipulations (described below) to
determine which force overrides the other when the two are in
conflict. The answer is not only of theoretical interest but also has
major implications for the viability of a potential reform of the
Dublin Regulation.
Figure2shows which asylum allocation mechanism Europeans
from each country prefer. Figure2ashows the results for the baseline
condition, which did not include any additional interventions but
simply asked respondents to indicate their preferences regarding
each of the three mechanisms: proportional allocation, equal alloca-
tion or country of first entry. A large majority (72%) of respondents
prefer proportional allocation, and this overwhelming support
holds in every country, ranging between 58% (Germany) and 87%
(Greece). This suggests that respondents are strongly attracted to
the norm of proportional equality. In stark contrast, only 18% of
voters prefer the country of first entry, even though this has been
the status quo since the inception of the Dublin system in the 1990s.
In addition, only 10% of respondents prefer an equal allocation,
suggesting that few voters are attracted to the alternative fairness
principle of numerical equality in this context.
This strong public support for moving towards a system of pro-
portional allocation is surprising given that most countries would
receive a higher number of asylum seekers under proportional allo-
cation than under the status quo. In fact, if voters primarily care
about the consequences of the policy, we would expect support
for proportional allocation to be stronger in countries that would
Figure 2 | Public support for various allocations of asylum seekers. Percentage of respondents who prefer proportional, equal or status quo allocation
given random assignment to one of four conditions. a, The baseline condition (n=  4,530) asked for the respondents’ preferences without any additional
intervention. b, The information treatment (n=  4,438) informed respondents of the status quo policy and policy-relevant arguments. c, The consequences
treatment (n=  4,423) informed respondents of the number of asylum seekers that their country would receive under each allocation. d, The fourth condition
included both the information treatment and the consequences treatment (n=  4,492). Countries are ordered such that the country at the bottom would see
the largest increase in the number of asylum seekers when moving from the status quo to proportional allocation, and the country at the top would see the
largest decrease. The dashed horizontal line separates the countries that would see an increase versus a decrease. Estimates employ sample weights.
Information treatment
Consequences treatment Both treatments
Pooled
United Kingdom
France
Spain
Poland
Italy
Czech Republic
Greece
Netherlands
Denmark
Switzerland
Norway
Austria
Sweden
Hungary
Germany
Pooled
United Kingdom
France
Spain
Poland
Italy
Czech Republic
Greece
Netherlands
Denmark
Switzerland
Norway
Austria
Sweden
Hungary
Germany
0255075100 025507
51
00
Distribution of preferences over allocation of asylum seeker applications (%)
Proportional Same for all Status quo
c
b
d
Baseline
a
4
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR 1, 0133 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0133 | www.nature.com/nhumbehav
LETTERS NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
Pooled
United Kingdom
France
Spain
Poland
Italy
Czech Republic
Greece
Netherlands
Denmark
Switzerland
Norway
Austria
Sweden
Hungary
Germany
–100 –50 05
0100
Percentage point dierence between support for
proportional allocation and status quo
Consequences not shownConsequences shown
receive fewer asylum seekers under this allocation rule compared
with country of first entry.
The countries in Fig.2 are ordered such that the country at the
bottom would see the largest increase and the country at the top
would see the largest decrease in the number of asylum seekers
when moving from the status quo to proportional allocation, with
the dashed horizontal line separating the countries that would see
an increase versus a decrease. Under the baseline condition, we find
no systematic relationship between the change in the number of
asylum seekers a country would experience and the support for pro-
portional allocation compared with country of first entry (P = 0.25
for Spearman’s ρ).
Given the overwhelming support for proportional allocation
across Europe, even in countries that would have to shoulder a
greater responsibility compared with the status quo, one might ask
whether respondents prefer proportional allocation over the other
allocation mechanisms because they do not fully understand the
implications of each option or because they incorrectly assume that
proportional allocation is actually the status quo. To test for this,
our survey randomly assigned half of the respondents in each coun-
try to receive an additional information treatment. This informed
respondents that allocation based on the country of first entry is the
status quo regulation and also presented arguments typically used in
public debate to justify the various allocations (see the Methods for
the wordings of all randomized treatments, and the Supplementary
Information for covariate balance checks across the treatment con-
ditions in each country).
Figure 2b shows that when respondents receive the informa-
tion treatment, the distribution of support for the three allocation
mechanisms is virtually identical to the distribution in the baseline
condition, demonstrating that the additional information does
not systematically alter the respondents’ preferences. (Of the 15
country-specific chi-squared tests of independence between allo-
cation mechanism preferences and information treatment assign-
ment, only one was statistically significant at level of α = 0.05). In
an additional analysis shown in the Supplementary Information, we
also find that respondents’ levels of knowledge about the refugee
crisis do not systematically moderate the effect of the information
treatment. These findings suggest that respondents widely share the
norm of proportional equality, that this principle is so entrenched
that it is unaffected by status quo bias and that respondents need not
possess extensive policy knowledge or be presented with arguments
in its favour to grasp its normative appeal.
To examine the strength of the normative considerations, our
survey also cross-randomized a consequences treatment. It explic-
itly primed respondents’ consequentialist preferences by providing
additional information about the number of asylum applications
that would be assigned to the respondent’s country under each
of the three allocation rules (see Supplementary Information for
details). This manipulation makes it easy for respondents who are
driven by a consequentialist logic to identify the specific allocation
that would minimize the number of asylum seekers for their coun-
try. To make the consequences treatment as realistic as possible, we
piped in the actual number of asylum applications reported over the
2015 period by Eurostat for each country as the expected number
of asylum seekers under the country of first entry answer option.
Using the real numbers for the status quo ensured that we captured
the relevant benchmark for any policy reform since these numbers
reflect both the current regulations as well as any departures from
the rules (see Supplementary Information for details). To compute
the numbers for the equal allocation rule, we evenly divided the
total number of applications among all 15 countries, and for the
proportional allocation rule, we relied on country-specific weights
based on the official allocation proposal made by the European
Commission, which includes the following elements: 40% popu-
lation, 40% total GDP, 10% number of past applications and 10%
unemployment rate8.
The results for respondents who were assigned to the conse-
quences treatment are shown in Fig.2c, while the results for respon-
dents who were assigned to both the consequences treatment and
the information treatment are shown in Fig. 2d. There are two
key findings. First, prompting respondents with the consequences
clearly has an important impact on support for proportional alloca-
tion. If their country benefits from proportional allocation (those
shown above the dashed line), provision of the actual numbers
increases support, while if their country faces a higher responsibil-
ity under proportional allocation, provision of the numbers reduces
support. This relationship holds for each of the 15 countries and
suggests that consequentialist considerations play a significant role
in shaping preferences for the allocation of asylum seekers. Second,
even when respondents see the implied numbers, a majority of 56%
of respondents still prefer proportional allocation, despite the fact
that it would increase the number of asylum seekers for most coun-
tries. In contrast, only 27% of respondents prefer the status quo allo-
cation and only 17% of respondents prefer an equal allocation under
this condition; in fact, a higher percentage supports equal allocation
over the status quo in several countries.
Figure3 shows the difference in support for proportional allocation
versus the status quo, which is particularly relevant for the viability
of a potential policy reform. When they are not shown the numbers
of asylum seekers, large majorities of respondents prefer propor-
tional allocation over the status quo in all countries. Furthermore,
when respondents are prompted about the consequences, there
Figure 3 | Support for proportional versus status quo allocation of
asylum seekers. Difference in the percentage of respondents who support
proportional allocation versus status quo allocation by country of first
entry given random assignment to the consequences treatment. Countries
are ordered such that the country at the bottom would see the largest
increase in the number of asylum seekers when moving from the status
quo to proportional allocation, and the country at the top would see the
largest decrease. The dashed horizontal line separates the countries
that would see an increase versus a decrease. Estimates employ sample
weights. Corresponding normality-based 95% confidence intervals are
shown. Pooled n= 17,883.
5
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR 1, 0133 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0133 | www.nature.com/nhumbehav
LETTERS
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
are still more respondents who prefer proportional allocation than
those who prefer the status quo in all but three countries, including
seven of the ten countries in which proportional allocation would
result in an increase in the number of asylum seekers. Even in the
three countries that prefer the status quo (the Czech Republic,
Poland and the United Kingdom), there is still meaningful support,
with more than 25% of respondents in each preferring propor-
tional allocation. In the Supplementary Information, we also show
that a similar pattern holds when we consider the respondents’ full
ranking of all three allocation mechanisms. In addition, we show
that strong support for proportional allocation over the status quo
remains robust—with and without the consequences treatment—
across various subsets of respondents, including those on the left,
centre and right of the political spectrum, those with low and
high political knowledge, and those who support a decrease and
increase in the number of asylum seekers in general.
Overall, these findings suggest that considerations of both con-
sequences and fairness shape voters’ preferences over asylum allo-
cation policy. Yet when the two collide, the norm of proportional
equality overrides consequentialist preferences for most voters.
To ameliorate the refugee crisis, European countries need to
work together to provide adequate humanitarian protection, share
responsibilities and realize the full gains from international coop-
eration. The results of our study suggest that there is firm ground
for greater cooperation, and they have important implications for
theory and policy.
For theory, the results provide evidence that in the context of
a highly salient international policy decision—where voters have
strong preferences and stakes are high—the norm of proportional
equality can preponderate over narrow consequentialist consider-
ations. Voters care not only about the consequences of this policy
reform, but also about the inherent fairness of the design of the
asylum system. Clearly, more work is needed to better understand
domestic support for the design of other international institutions.
However, the power of the proportional equality norm in the highly
contentious context of asylum allocation suggests that it might
enable coordination in other areas where the international provi-
sion of public goods is controversial, such as climate change mitiga-
tion, environmental protection and financial bailouts.
The results also inform policy. Recent public backlash against
efforts to accommodate asylum seekers has created a serious chal-
lenge for reform of the CEAS, as such reform would entail increas-
ing the number of asylum seekers allocated to most countries.
However, our results suggest that voters would tolerate an increase
in the number of asylum seekers allocated to their own country as
long as responsibilities are fairly shared across Europe. This points
to a viable pan-European consensus to move towards a responsibil-
ity-sharing mechanism that allocates asylum seekers in proportion
to the countries’ capacities.
It is important to emphasize that the strong public support for
proportional allocation uncovered by this study does not imply
that reforming the asylum system will be frictionless. Recall that
in three of the fifteen countries, a majority of respondents sup-
port the status quo when prompted to consider the consequences.
However, in each of these countries more than one-quarter of
these respondents still support proportional allocation, suggest-
ing that policymakers could potentially reach a consensus. More
broadly, public support for proportional allocation could be either
weakened or strengthened if voters were exposed to the counter-
vailing forces of political framing by opponents and advocates
of the reform.
It is possible that support could be weakened if opponents are
able to raise the salience of the potential costs of increasing the num-
ber of asylum seekers in those countries whose responsibility would
grow under the reform. However, given that we conducted our sur-
vey at the height of the European refugee crisis, it should have been
the case that our respondents were already heavily primed about
these concerns. In addition, our consequences treatment made this
consideration highly salient and easily accessible to respondents
by explicitly informing them of how many asylum seekers each
policy option would entail for their own country. Furthermore, in
the framing battle surrounding this policy reform, advocates would
also fiercely promote fairness considerations to justify moving to a
proportional allocation; for instance, by emphasizing to voters that
other countries with similar capacities would also take on a simi-
lar responsibility. Although our study did not test this explicitly, it
stands to reason that prompting voters with such fairness consider-
ations would, if anything, further increase support for the propor-
tional allocation.
In summary, the extensiveness of the support for proportional
allocation over the current regulations across Europe suggests that
a reform could be broadly agreeable to the public, which is critical
in giving policymakers latitude to take action. At the very least, they
should be emboldened by this evidence that there is little reason to
fear reprisal in the court of public opinion.
Methods
Sample. We conducted our survey in 15 European countries that belong to the
CEAS. e sample included Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In each country, we surveyed about 1,200
eligible voters, such that the total sample size was about 18,000 respondents (see
Supplementary Information for details). e international survey rm Respondi
recruited respondents from the population of eligible voters in each country
to which the survey was administered online. We used entropy balancing to
re-weight our sample data to match the country-specic demographic margins
from the populations. We excluded 147 respondents for whom weights could not
be constructed due to missing data. e Supplementary Information provides
detailed information about the survey translation, recruitment process, response
rate, survey length, compensation, descriptive statistics and unweighted results.
Informed consent was obtained from each participant at the beginning of the
survey. e survey was approved by Stanford University’s Institutional Review
Board (protocol ID: 34881) and conducted according to the University of Zurich’s
policy for human subjects research.
Study design. In each country, each respondent was randomly assigned to
one of four conditions: (1) a baseline condition; (2) a condition under which
respondents were exposed to the information treatment; (3) a condition
under which respondents were exposed to the consequences treatment;
and (4) a condition under which respondents were exposed to the both the
information treatment and the consequences treatment. Randomization was
automated, thus the investigators were blinded to the treatment assignment
allocation during the survey administration.
For the baseline condition, we asked respondents after a short introductory
text (see the Supplementary Information for details) the following question to
measure what type of allocation mechanism for asylum seekers they prefer:
“In your opinion, how should the number of asylum applications
per country be determined? The number of asylum applications
allocated to each European country should be
• based on the country of rst entry (e.g. asylum seekers are required
to submit their asylum application in the European country in
which they initially arrive).
• the same for every European country (e.g. asylum seekers are allo-
cated such that each European country receives the same number
of asylum applications).
• proportional to the country’s capacity (e.g. asylum seekers are
allocated to each European country depending on its population,
GDP, unemployment rate, and number of past applications).
The information treatment was designed to examine whether preferences change
when we provide voters with policy-relevant information about the different
allocation mechanisms. The information prompt that respondents assigned to the
information treatment received immediately before being asked the question about
the preferred allocation read as follows:
“Under current regulations, asylum seekers are generally required
to submit their applications in the country through which they first
entered Europe (i.e. the ‘country of first entry’). The goal behind this
policy is to maximize efficiency. However, some people have pointed
6
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR 1, 0133 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0133 | www.nature.com/nhumbehav
LETTERS NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
6. Bozorgmehr, K. & Wahedi, K. Reframing solidarity in europe: frontex,
frontiers, and the fallacy of refugee quota. Lancet Public Health 2,
e10–e11 (2016).
7. ielemann, E. R. Between interests and norms: explaining burden-sharing in
the European Union. J. Refug. Stud. 16, 253–273 (2003).
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);
http://ec.europa.eu/anti-tracking/sites/antitracking/les/communication_
on_the_european_agenda_on_migration_en.pdf
9. Suhrke, A. Burden-sharing during refugee emergencies: the logic of collective
versus national action. J. Refug. Stud. 11, 396–415 (1998).
10. Betts, A. 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. ielemann, E. R. & Dewan, T. e myth of free-riding: refugee protection
and implicit burden-sharing. West Eur. Polit. 29, 351–369 (2006).
12. Fetzer, J. S. Public Attitudes Toward Immigration in the United States, France,
and Germany (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000).
13. Ivarsaten, E. reatened by diversity: why restrictive asylum and
immigration policies appeal to Western Europeans. J. Elect. Public Opin.
Parties 15, 21–45 (2005).
14. Wike, R., Stokes, B. & Simmons, K. Europeans fear wave of refugees will
mean more terrorism, fewer jobs. Pew Research Center (11 July 2016);
http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/07/11/europeans-fear-wave-of-refugees-will-
mean-more-terrorism-fewer-jobs
15. Bansak, K., Hainmueller, J. & Hangartner, D. How economic, humanitarian,
and religious concerns shape European attitudes toward asylum seekers.
Science 354, 217–222 (2016).
16. Bechtel, M. M. & Scheve, K. F. Mass support for global climate
agreements depends on institutional design. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110,
13763–13768 (2013).
17. Hainmueller, J. Entropy balancing for causal eects: a multivariate
reweighting method to produce balanced samples in observational studies.
Polit. Anal. 20, 25–46 (2011).
18. Gosepath, S. in e Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Zalta, E. N.)
(e Metaphysics Research Lab, 2011); https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/
spr2011/entries/equality/
19. Moulin, H. in Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare Vol. 1 (eds Arrow, K.,
Sen, A. K. & Suzumura, K.) 289–357 (Elsevier, 2002).
20. Gachter, S. & Riedl, A. Dividing justly in bargaining problems with claims.
Soc. Choice Welf. 27, 571–594 (2006).
21. Herrero, C., Moreno-Ternero, J. D. & Ponti, G. On the adjudication of
conicting claims: an experimental study. Soc. Choice Welf. 34, 145–179 (2010).
22. Bosmans, K. & Schokkaert, E. Equality preference in the claims problem: a
questionnaire study of cuts in earnings and pensions. Soc. Choice Welf. 33,
533–557 (2009).
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 contributions
K.B., J.H. and D.H. conceived the research, designed the analyses, conducted the analyses
and wrote the manuscript.
Additional information
Supplementary information is available for this paper.
Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints.
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to D.H.
How to cite this article: Bansak, K., Hainmueller, J. & Hangartner, D. Europeans support
a proportional allocation of asylum seekers. Nat. Hum. Behav. 1, 0133 (2017).
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
Competing interests
The authors declare no competing interests.
out that the current policy puts an unfair burden on border countries
that are more likely to serve as entry points for asylum seekers.
Accordingly, they recommend allocating asylum applications either
equally across all countries or based on each country’s capacity.
The Supplementary Information provides more details about the rationale
of the information treatment.
The consequences treatment was designed to examine whether preferences
change when we explicitly prime the consequentialist preferences of respondents.
Respondents assigned to the consequences treatment received an alternative
version of the question about the preferred allocation, in which a sentence was
added at the end of each option specifying the associated number of asylum
applications. The alternative question, using the example of the United Kingdom,
read as follows:
“In your opinion, how should the number of asylum applications
per country be determined? The number of asylum applications
allocated to each European country should be
• based on the country of rst entry (e.g. asylum seekers are
required to submit their asylum application in the European
country in which they initially arrive). is would mean approxi-
mately 38,700 applications allotted to the United Kingdom.
• the same for every European country (e.g. asylum seekers are
allocated such that each European country receives the same
number of asylum applications). is would mean approximately
43,200 applications allotted to the United Kingdom.
• proportional to the country’s capacity (e.g. asylum seekers are
allocated to each European country depending on its population,
GDP, unemployment rate, and number of past applications). is
would mean approximately 159,600 applications allotted to the
United Kingdom.
This randomized manipulation makes explicit what the consequences of the
various allocation mechanisms would be in terms of the number of asylum seekers
assigned to the respondent’s country. It also makes it easy for respondents who
are driven by consequentialist preferences to pick out the allocation that would
mean the lowest number of asylum seekers allocated to their own country. The
Supplementary Information provides more details about the rationale of the
consequences treatment.
In the fourth condition, respondents received both the information treatment
and the consequences treatment.
Variable definitions. The Supplementary Information provides the measures and
question wordings for all variables used in the analysis.
Statistical analysis. The statistical analysis underlying the figures in the main
text employs the entropy balancing weights. The unweighted results are very
similar and are detailed in the Supplementary Information. Subgroup analyses and
summary statistics are also reported in the Supplementary Information.
Code availability. Replication code can be accessed at Dataverse: http://dx.doi.
org/10.7910/DVN/PTKD7K.
Data availability. Replication data can be accessed at Dataverse: http://dx.doi.
org/10.7910/DVN/PTKD7K.
Received 13 March 2017; accepted 23 May 2017;
published 26 June 2017
References
1. Operational Portal Refugee Situations: Mediterranean Situation (UNHCR,
2016); http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php
2. Raitio, J. e Principle of Legal Certainty in EC Law (Kluwer
Academic, 2003).
3. Ngalikpima, M. & Hennessy, M. “Dublin II Regulation: Lives on Hold”—
European Comparative Report (European Council on Refugees and Exiles,
2013); http://www.refworld.org/docid/513ef9632.html
4. McDonough, P., Kmak, M. & van Selm, J. Sharing Responsibility for Refugee
Protection in Europe: Dublin Reconsidered (European Council on Refugees
and Exiles, 2008).
5. Neumayer, E. Asylum destination choice. What makes some
West European countries more attractive than others? Eur. Union Polit. 5,
155–180 (2004).
... . Negative attitudes toward the EU are correlated with hostility to immigration and to other cultures (Kuhn and Stoeckel, 2014;de Vreese and Boomgaarden, 2005;McLaren, 2002). In turn, exclusive national identities and anti-immigration sentiments shape public opinion on refugee redistribution between EU member states (Gerhards et al., 2020), as do notions of fairness (Bansak, Hainmueller and Hangartner, 2017). Cosmopolitan values (Kuhn, Solaz and van Elsas, 2018;Bechtel, Hainmueller and Margalit, 2014), altruism and leftist ideology (Daniele and Geys, 2015), as well as cultural openness (Kleider and Stoeckel, 2019) help explain popular support of EU fiscal transfers in rich member states. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study argues that the EU's adoption of a policy increases popular support for that policy. Elite cue theory implies that this effect only materializes among Europeans who trust the Union. Moreover, EU member states' unanimous policy support conveys a stronger cue than the Union's policy endorsement despite vocal dissent. The argument is tested through original survey experiments and the quasi-experimental analysis of a survey that was fielded while the European Council endorsed a salient policy proposal. Support of the policy surged immediately after this decision-but only among Europeans who trust the Union. Experiments in original national surveys confirm that citizens who trust the EU respond to signals from Brussels. Unanimity in the Council of the EU augments the impact of these cues. Word count: 9,279 * I thank Jeffry Frieden, Roman Hlatki, Tobias Hofmann, Michal Parízek, and audience members at annual meetings of APSA and IPES in 2021 and ISA in 2022 for helpful comments. All errors are mine.
... Many studies have proved that EB has sufficient advantages over other matching methods using simulated data sets and Monte Carlo experiments: EB has the smallest variance among all estimators (Zhao and Percival, 2017). EB has been widely applied in many disciplines such as sociology (Pearson et al., 2014), psychology (Bansak et al., 2017), political science (Bol et al., 2021), and economics (Koch et al., 2019). The specific steps are as follows: ...
Article
The impact of China's low-carbon city pilot (LCCP) program – a climate policy applied at the city level – on low-carbon innovation has yet to be studied. The LCCP program intends to facilitate the low-carbon transformation of several of China's cities and serve as a quasi-natural experiment to determine if city-level climate policies like this can promote low-carbon innovation. Using the entropy balancing-difference in difference (EB-DID) method, this study evaluates the impact of China's LCCP program on low-carbon innovation in China's prefecture-level cities. The results show that: (1) the LCCP program significantly promotes low-carbon innovation; (2) the LCCP program more significantly impacts innovation with higher carbon reduction potential and promotes more innovation in small- and medium-sized cities; (3) innovation environment and environmental information disclosure are essential factors affecting the LCCP program's innovation effects. The study suggests that governments can improve cities' low-carbon innovation through active climate policies at the city level and through optimizing the allocation of innovation resources. The governments should also include small- and medium-sized cities in the pilot programs. To benefit from the low-carbon innovation effect of the LCCP program, they should also focus on improving the innovation environment and environmental information disclosure practices of the pilot cities.
... Given the problems identified with the Dublin mechanism (see, e.g., Bozorgmehr and Wahedi 2017), proposals have been made to allocate refugees according to some proportional rule based on countries' capacities (see, e.g.,Thielemann 2003; European Commission 2015;Bansak et al. 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
We study a relocation problem which consists of allocating a given number of refugees—who are heterogeneous with respect to country of origin and characteristics such as gender, age or educational level—from Greece to other European Union countries which have pledged to accept a certain number of refugees. In order to study this problem, we developed a conceptual framework consisting of three allocation methods: sequential multi-agent resource allocation, simultaneous allocation, and two-stage allocation. In these methods we incorporate preferences by assuming that the destination countries have their own preferences regarding refugee characteristics, but that they also try to consider the refugees’ preferences for the destination countries. While these methods vary in design and execution, all three of them aim to create a more equitable allocation methodology for both the refugees and the destination countries. These methods could also be applied to other similar types of allocation problems.
Article
The article studies over-time changes in public attitudes towards asylum seekers, from a cross-national comparative perspective. The article applies the ‘hierarchical age-period-cohort’ model to data from the European Social Survey collected in 17 European countries. The findings demonstrate that cross-cohort variations play a negligible role in the over-time changes in attitudes towards asylum seekers in Europe; and that most of these over-time changes can be attributed to period-related effect. The main findings reveal that not only exposure to an actual high inflow of asylum seekers (i.e. living in a country with an especially high inflow of asylum seekers) is associated with exclusionary attitudes towards asylum seekers, but also exposure to the potential of such an inflow (i.e. living in a country bordering countries with a high inflow of asylum seekers).
Article
Full-text available
Bu makale, araştırmacı olarak içinde bulunulan, özellikle göç çalışmalarındaki, konumsallık tartışmalarına katkıda bulunmayı hedeflemektedir. Göç alanındaki mevcut akademik çalışmalar, araştırmacının konumsallığını göçmen topluluğun içinden olan içerideki araştırmacı ve kendi kimliğinin dışında bir kimliğe sahip göçmen topluluk ile etkileşimde olan dışarıdaki araştırmacı diye ele alır. Bu makale, araştırmacının ev sahibi topluluğun içinden kabul edildiği ve mülakat sorularının göçmen bir gruba dair olduğu bir konum olan atfedilen içerideki kategorisini ortaya koymaktadır. Bu kategori ile aynı menşee sahip olmanın etnik kimliğin ötesine geçen bir özellik olarak ortaya çıktığını ve görüşmecilerin ev sahibi topluluğa mensup olmasının, göçmen topluluğa mensup olmasından farklı etik boyutlar içermesinden dolayı ayrı bir kategori olarak ele alınması gerektiğini savunmaktadır.
Article
Large migrant inflows have spurred anti-immigrant sentiment, but can small inflows have a different impact? We exploit the redistribution of migrants after the dismantling of the “Calais Jungle” in France to study the impact of the exposure to few migrants, which we estimate using difference-in-differences and instrumental variables. We find that in the presence of a migrant center (CAO), the growth rate of vote shares for the main far-right party (Front National (FN), our proxy for anti-immigrant sentiment) between 2012 and 2017 is reduced by about 12 percentage points. This effect, which crucially depends on the inflow's size, points toward the contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954).
Article
We analyze the problem of international responsibility sharing for a refugee group seeking protection from the dangers of mass violence arising from inter-state conflict or the collapse of a fragile state. After reviewing several proposed solutions, we characterize responsibility sharing as a coordination problem in a simple sequential “moves” game between two potential host countries. We demonstrate that, ultimately, the country that makes the first move to receive refugees bears a disproportionate responsibility. We then draw on two historical case studies that illustrate the difficulties of coordinating a fair division of refugee responsibilities. To solve the coordination problem, we adapt a fair division procedure by inverting one first presented by Hugo Steinhaus for dividing “goods.” We demonstrate that the procedure is applicable to costly “obligations” under different scenarios and is manipulation proof, as each participating country has an obviously dominant strategy.
Article
This paper discusses why and how public attitudes should matter in regulating asylum and refugee protection in rich democracies, with a focus on Europe. Taking a realistic approach, I argue that public views constitute a soft feasibility constraint on effective and sustainable policies towards asylum seekers and refugees, and that a failure to take seriously and understand the attitudes of the host country’s population can have a very damaging effect on refugee protection and migrants’ rights in practice. Bringing together insights from political philosophy, the politics of asylum, and research on public attitudes, I develop my argument by discussing why ‘what the people think’ should matter in asylum and refugee polices; how public views can and should matter given the well-known challenges with measuring attitudes and policy preferences; and what the prevailing public views might mean for the reform of asylum and refugee policies in Europe.
Article
Full-text available
What types of asylum seekers are Europeans willing to accept? We conducted a conjoint experiment asking 18,000 eligible voters in 15 European countries to evaluate 180,000 profiles of asylum seekers that randomly varied on nine attributes. Asylum seekers who have higher employability, have more consistent asylum testimonies and severe vulnerabilities, and are Christian rather than Muslim received the greatest public support. These results suggest that public preferences over asylum seekers are shaped by sociotropic evaluations of their potential economic contributions, humanitarian concerns about the deservingness of their claims, and anti-Muslim bias. These preferences are similar across respondents of different age, education, income, and political ideology, as well as across the surveyed countries. This public consensus on what types of asylum seekers to accept has important implications for theory and policy.
Article
Full-text available
Effective climate mitigation requires international cooperation, and these global efforts need broad public support to be sustainable over the long run. We provide estimates of public support for different types of climate agreements in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Using data from a large-scale experimental survey, we explore how three key dimensions of global climate cooperation-costs and distribution, participation, and enforcement-affect individuals' willingness to support these international efforts. We find that design features have significant effects on public support. Specifically, our results indicate that support is higher for global climate agreements that involve lower costs, distribute costs according to prominent fairness principles, encompass more countries, and include a small sanction if a country fails to meet its emissions reduction targets. In contrast to well-documented baseline differences in public support for climate mitigation efforts, opinion responds similarly to changes in climate policy design in all four countries. We also find that the effects of institutional design features can bring about decisive changes in the level of public support for a global climate agreement. Moreover, the results appear consistent with the view that the sensitivity of public support to design features reflects underlying norms of reciprocity and individuals' beliefs about the potential effectiveness of specific agreements.
Article
Full-text available
This article examines what explains the relative attractiveness of West European countries as a destination for asylum seekers. Individuals coming to Western Europe in order to lodge an asylum application are modelled as utility maximizers who choose the destination country that offers the highest net benefit. This benefit is seen as a function of economic attractiveness, generosity of welfare provisions, deterrent policy measures, hostility towards foreigners and asylum seekers, existing asylum communities, colonial and language links as well as geographical proximity. Results from a large dyadic panel over the time period from 1982 to 1999 demonstrate the impact that these fundamental determinants have on asylum destination choice. The implications of the results for the ongoing debates over fair burden-sharing are complex because they provide arguments for two conflicting interpretations of burden-sharing as either financial side payments or the physical reallocation of asylum seekers.
Article
The intertwinement of EC law and national law may create unforeseeability in situations where EC law invades the national cases, which gives rise to the very question of legal certainty in EC law. This study contributes to the contemporary discussion, which wrestles with the following questions in particular: - What have been the visions and objectives for European integration in the last decades? - How to describe European Union as a political entity and a legal system? - What is the relationship between legal certainty, rule of law, various general principles and human rights? - What is the core of legal certainty on the basis of the case study? - What kind of legal arguments and patterns of justification are there from a comparative perspective? - How has the term 'legal certainty' been defined in the Nordic legal theory? - How predictable and acceptable are the interpretations of the European Court of Justice - is it "running wild"? Legal certainty relates to the principle of non-retroactivity and the protection of legitimate expectations in particular, but more profoundly it can be related to the conceptual scale for weighing up and balancing between formal justice and material fairness in legal decision-making. This scale is illustrated by presenting the terms 'formal', 'factual' and 'substantive' legal certainty.
Book
Public Attitudes Toward Immigration in the United States, France, and Germany explores the causes of public opposition to immigration and support for anti-immigrant political movements in the three industrialized Western countries. Combining sophisticated modeling of recent public-opinion data with analysis of the past 110 years of these nations' immigration history, the book evaluates the effects of cultural marginality, economic self-interest, and contact with immigrants. Though analysis partly confirms each of these three explanations, the author concludes that being a cultural outsider usually drives immigration-related attitudes more than economics or contact do.
Article
This report highlights the inherent limitations and injustices of the Dublin system, which transfers asylum seekers between EU Member States, and outlines alternative proposals for a fairer and more efficient system. ECRE strongly believes that the Dublin Regulation does not promote harmonisation of EU asylum systems, seriously impedes integration, and sows dissension among Member States. Instead of pretending it can be made to work, the Stockholm Programme should repeal the Dublin Regulation and devise an efficient responsibility-sharing regime that improves solidarity among Member States, and promotes the integration of people who seek, and deserve, international protection.
Article
Much of the existing forced migration literature on burden-sharing implicitly or explicitly assumes humanitarian provision to refugees, whether in the form of asylum or contributions to international refugee agencies, to be an international public good. This assumption has profound implications because it is interpreted to imply that refugee provision is inevitably characterized by collective action failure in the absence of a highly integrated formal regime structure. However, the existing debate has yet to identify explicitly what those public benefits are or to distinguish between the range of benefits and their varying degrees of excludability between states. This paper attempts to address these shortcomings by introducing the notion of 'joint-products' to the burden-sharing debate, arguing that there are multiple benefits, varying in their degree of excludability, that accrue to the providing states. The policy implications for regime structure and the incentives required to induce provision are explored.
Article
Previous research has found that, especially in contemporary western Europe, culture or identity concerns are more important for explaining immigration and asylum policy preferences than economic concerns. This article advances this line of research by considering three new hypotheses, which specify how and why culture and identity concerns matter so much. The first two hypotheses distinguish between two different identity concerns that have arisen as a consequence of globalization – worries about declining national authority, on the one hand, and diminished national unity and uniqueness, on the other. The third hypothesis holds that anti‐immigrant elites play an important role in persuading the public that restrictive immigration and asylum policies are an appropriate response to such concerns. Using survey data collected in 2003 for 18 western European countries and regions, the study finds overwhelming support for the second hypothesis. Western Europeans demand restrictive immigration and asylum policies mainly because they are concerned that diversity of religion, language and tradition will have a negative impact on their country.
Article
Why do states accept what appear to be disproportionate and inequitable burdens in the provision of international collective goods? Traditional burden-sharing models emphasise free-riding opportunities of small countries at the expense of larger ones. An alternative model suggests that countries specialise according to their comparative advantage as to the type and level of contribution they make to international collective goods. We apply this model to forced migration and suggest that countries can contribute to refugee protection in two principal ways: proactively, through peacekeeping/making and reactively, by providing protection for displaced persons. While the existing literature on peacekeeping provides evidence for the 'exploitation of the big by the small', our analysis of UNHCR data of 15 OECD countries for the period 1994 2002 balances this view by showing that reactive burdens are disproportionately borne by smaller states. We also show that EU asylum policy initiatives directed at refugee burden-sharing aim at equalising particular dimensions of states' contributions to refugee protection. By doing so, they curtail opportunities for specialisation and risk consolidating a sub-optimal provision of refugee protection.