Modeling Multiple-country Repeated Cross-sections. A Societal Growth Curve Model for Studying the Effect of the Economic Crisis on Perceived Ethnic Threat

Bart Meuleman, Eldad Davidov, Jaak Billiet


While multiple-country repeated cross-sectional datasets are increasingly available, few cross-national studies fully exploit the richness of such data. This paper contributes to the practical knowledge on statistical analysis of cross-national time series data. For that purpose, we present a novel application of a societal growth curve model (Fairbrother, 2014) analyzing the pressing question whether the economic crisis of the past years has stirred up immigration-related threat perceptions among European citizens. Concretely, we analyze six rounds of European Social Survey data (2002-2012) to investigate whether indicators of economic downturn are systematically related to increased levels of economic and cultural threat. The societal growth curve modeling approach makes it possible to set longitudinal effects apart from cross-sectional differences and thus overcomes the weaknesses of analyses relying on single-shot cross-sectional data. Our results provide evidence that growing unemployment as well as decreasing rates of economic growth instigate feelings of economic threat. Rather than affecting citizens’ opinion uniformly, the economic crisis is found to have the strongest impact on economic threat among low educated people. While this study provides evidence that economic shocks affect concerns that immigration is bad for the economy, feelings of cultural threat are not affected by economic crises.


group conflict theory, economic vs. cultural threat, societal growth curves, European Social Survey

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Copyright (c) 2018 Bart Meuleman, Eldad Davidov, Jaak Billiet

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