Ecole liégeoise de Criminologie J. Constant
Département de Science Politique

The Transformations
of the Welfare State
Is immigration to welfare states a burden?
Case study of anti-immigration sentiments in Belgium

Professeur : Dr. Geoffroy MATAGNE


Master en science politique
Année académique 2013-2014

. 4 3....................... Flanders and Brussels ................................ 7 4............ (Sub)nationalism in Belgium ..................................3.........................................................................2............... Case study: Belgium ................................................................................................................................................... 8 4............... Divergences between Wallonia............................................ The situation in Belgium ............... 7 4................ Changes in immigration and changes in attitudes ......................1............................................................................................................................................................. 5 4....................... 9 Conclusion ......Table of contents Introduction .............. 3 1................................................................................... Anti-immigration sentiments: trends ............................................... 12 2 .......................... 3 2.................... Why are people opposed to immigration? Theories ...............................

p. the fourth part will consist in our case study: Belgium. As economies were growing. No. it does not mean either that it is at the margin of welfare states. 3 Hjerm. Leuven. Flanders and Brussels. more and more these days. it is not the stance that we are taking. 70. European States needed immigrants because they were a source of labour3. (sub)nationalism in Belgium and the divergences between Wallonia. In order to do so. The first one will globally examine the changes in immigration as well as the changes in attitudes. (2005). B. p.Introduction If immigration is not the first thing that comes in mind when thinking about the welfare state. (2008). we will make an overview of the antiimmigration sentiments trends in Europe. because we want this paper to be explicative and not normative. Vol. we will see that antiimmigration sentiments have different echoes in different parts of Belgium. Twenty years ago. It is clear that Europe has become a continent of immigration. the paper will be divided in four parts. 2. By analysing the specific case of Belgium. Integration into the Social Democratic Welfare State. The relation between integration policy and majority attitudes toward immigration. we can see a discourse on immigration that incriminates it for being a burden for the welfare state. Indeed. Indeed. but it has definitely increased these last decades1. Paper presented on the “Dag van de Sociologie” of 29th May 2008. we will look at both theories previously mentioned in order to see how negative attitudes towards immigration could be explained. After the Second World War. If such considerations could be interesting in an economic perspective. Finally. T. But if this increase is quantitative. and Reeskens. An empirical test across European countries. By looking at the case of Belgium. using „marginality‟ theory and „economic self-interest‟ theory. net immigration to the European Union was six times less important than it is today2. 2 Ibid. 3 . In the third part. Immigrants are often seen as „lazy‟ people coming to „our‟ countries to benefit from this income redistribution system. 1. including people that don‟t work. the representation of the welfare state is linked with taxes and redistribution. 1. In the second one. Changes in immigration and changes in attitudes Immigration to western have always existed. there is also a qualitative change as the purpose of immigration has also changed. Social Indicators Research. This part will be sub-divided in three: the situation in Belgium. the redistribution of income implies that money is given to the ones in need. the social 1 Meuleman. What we will try to explain here is why such anti-immigration sentiments emerge. and we will try to understand why. M. the aim is indeed to show the indicators to which these sentiments are linked. for most people. the aim of this paper is not to try to establish if immigrants are a burden or not for welfare states. To some extent. However. 117.

Fetzer chooses to articulate two theories. op. 8 Allport. 1. since “These people are victims exactly as [we are] victim[s]. Following Allport. p. Why are people opposed to immigration? Theories In order to explain public opposition to immigration. Nowadays. cit. 6 Fetzer. 26. material self-interest”6. being marginalized would induce that people oppose immigration because it is against their self-interest.. cit. cit. MA: Addison-Wesley. 7 CIRES [Centro de Investigaciones sobre la Realidad Social]. p. Germany and the United States. But using public-opinion surveys and polls conducted in France. This (not so) new type of immigration is often considered to bring less than what it actually costs to the welfare state. p. maintains that marginalised groups tend to express sympathy for other oppressed groups. namely „economic self-interest‟ and „marginality‟. (1979). the lower classes would thus excessively oppose legal and illegal immigration because of economic concerns. G. the European countries started to want to restrict immigration4. 1990-91. the indigenous population‟s negative view of immigrants is becoming more and more common. p. Blumer. 2. The Nature of Prejudice. 1. op. 7. according to the second one. not against them”8. S. Fetzer actually 4 Hjerm (2005). This first consideration shows how negative attitudes towards immigration have arisen. 1. Before trying to apply these theories to our Walloon case. No. lower classes would stand for the other marginalised groups. However. (1958). (2000). the CIRES states that “these social groups are the ones most affected by immigration process. whether in its labour aspects (greater competition in the search for work) or in everyday coexistence (housing and schools)”7. immigration is more of an „asylum‟ type of immigration. Vol. However. Indeed. La Realidad Social en España. Reading... Better stand with them. p. The alternative theory. op. Economic self-interest or cultural marginality? Anti-immigration sentiment and nativist political movements in France. p. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Race prejudice as a sense of group position. in Fetzer (2000). marginality would on the contrary reduce such sentiments. No.. 117. in Meuleman and Reeskens (2008). driven by the idea that “immigrants threaten certain prerogatives of the own social group”5. following the first one. marginality theory. cit. economic self-interest theory may seem more likely.e. Germany and the USA. At first sight. 399. we will examine both theories and look at Fetzer‟s major findings. after the crisis caused by the oil shock of the 1970s.rights arising from the welfare state also grew. 5 4 . 25th anniversary edition. The implications of these two theories on anti-immigrations attitudes are thus really different. p. 155. 7. The well-known economic self-interest theory argues that “people‟s political attitudes primarily reflect their narrow. H. J. Bilbao Bizcaia Kutxa and Caja de Madrid. Indeed. (1991). in Fetzer (2000). 7. op. The Pacific Sociological Review. Bilbao: Fundación BBV. Indeed. According to authors like Harwood. i.

The first ones are related to national identity. p. 5. that are sometimes weak. we can distinguish two categories of sentiments12. op. Ibid. he explains that people with higher level of education tend to have more positive views on immigration by the fact that a vast literature finds that higher education socialises student into pro-egalitarian norms10. they are linked to the feeling that immigrants are posing a threat to cultural identity. To be able to apply these findings to our case. 2. 13. having origins in a foreign country decrease anti-immigration attitudes. namely the ones we are most interested in. cit. Indeed. Graph 1 provides us with significant data over the welfare state related sentiments. on education. p. However.. occupation. marginality theory – in its cultural forms if not economic – is generally confirmed by multivariate analysis9. p. Boston: Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association. as well as belonging to religious minorities11. 10 5 . in the three countries. As an example. If the economic form of marginality theory is thus not really confirmed. According to him. (2008). and Smith. 16. i. level of education and foreign origin. D. the cultural one still have credence. this does not account for the fact people with lower level of education still have negative opinions towards immigrants. being unemployed. However.e. which means that they are linked with the services the welfare state provides.. income and occupation. suffering from declining personal finances or working as a manual labourer had statistically no major effect on anti-immigration sentiments in the three countries analysed. 9 Fetzer (2000). 11 Ibid. 3. we choose to underline some characteristic of the respondents that are particularly evocative. 12 Ciftci. level of income. but Fetzer try to give explanations about those divergences. which are: employment status. The second category involves economic interest and includes the sentiments that are welfare state related. L. p. S. by showing that the presumed negative effect of immigrants over the reduction of natives‟ job perspectives (blue) and over social security (red) constitutes a negative image of immigration in public opinion. Nevertheless. The Determinants of Anti-Immigrant Attitudes in Europe: The Impact of Existing Immigrant Populations and National Political Parties. Anti-immigration sentiments: trends When it comes to anti-immigration sentiments/attitudes.demonstrates that economic self-interest theory is weak in explaining people comportments. We will thus come back to these variables in our analysis of Belgium.. like social security. the data are not really favourable to marginality theory.

Graph 1: Threat posing by immigrants on the balance of accounts of social security and on natives’ employment prospects. 17 European Commission (2010). 6. However. A. compared to 26% recorded in Sweden. 16 Ibid.cit. “whether legal immigrants contribute more in taxes than they benefit from health and welfare services”. Eurobarometer 71 (2009). Moreover. 6. Figures are also high in France (64%) and Malta (70%). Source of the graph: EVS (2008) and calculations of the author. p..13 According to the EVS (European Values Study)14. No. Future of Europe. de la Prospective et de la Statistique). In Belgium. available on: http://ec. 14. attitudes and beliefs. p. vecteurs de discrimination en matière d‟accès à l‟emploi.europa. 1999-2001 and 20082010. Belgium appears to be one of the countries where the figures are the highest. Belgium being the 10th country in descending order15. 19 Ibid. However. 56% of respondents agree on the idea that “immigrants are a burden to social security”.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb71/eb713_future_europe. 14 EVS (European Values Study) is an international survey that aims to examine changes in values.pdf 18 Ibid. 1990-1993. One of the modules of the survey is very helpful because it is based on how immigration and immigrants are perceived. (2013). On another statement. when we look at the trends country by country. p. the findings of the Eurobarometer 71 (2009)17 are the following: 45% of the general sample disagree with the idea (compared to 28% who agree with it). 40% of Belgians also consider that “immigrants are taking away natives‟ job”. 28% in Portugal and 29% in both Poland and Romania19. In this paper. op. Working Paper de l’IWEPS (Institut Wallon de l’Evaluation. 13 Marfouk. which is also the period analysed by Marfouk (2013) in his paper. people are even more concerned about this same issue (59%). i. globally. This survey has been conducted over four period of time: 1981-1984. 61. we will use data from the last „wave‟ of the survey (2008-2010). Germany (71%). it is in Malta (92%). with 63% disagreeing with the statement18. Cyprus (73%). Préjugés et fausses idées sur l‟immigration et les immigrés. 15 Marfouk (2013).e. in the European Union. UnitedKingdom (71%) and Ireland (70%) that respondents provide the most over settled opinion regarding immigrants‟ contribution to the maladjustment of social security16. 6 .

Immigration and Belgium’s Far-Right Parties. op.org/Feature/display. 8. far-right wing parties are not represented in the Walloon Parliament27.wallonie.be. i. op. The situation in Belgium As we have seen with the Eurobarometer and the EVS. 3. Indeed.be/kvvcr/showpage. it is interesting to have a look at the differences between both main parts of Belgium: Flanders and Wallonia. 22 Ibid. Ibid. 23 De Witte. In the Flemish Parliament. Migration Information Source. they first need to be economically integrated. 11 are coming from the Vlaams Belang24.Les députés. (2007).php?p=01-01 21 7 . available on : http://www. H. p. L. which underline the fact that extreme right-wing parties get higher scores in Flanders than they do in Wallonia at Belgian elections23. Today in the Belgian Parliament.cfm?sorttype=group&legis=53 25 Barker. cit. No.4. Belgian media often talks about the expansion of Flanders‟ nationalist parties and the great popularity of their leaders22. résultats officiels (2009). for immigrants to socially and culturally integrate. the differences (mainly economic but also related to identity) between both regions may help us to put some light on key factors that might influence the population‟s view.migrationinformation. p.cfm?section=/depute&language=fr&rightmenu=right_depute&cfm =cvlist53. p. the nationalistic parties are indeed overrepresented in Flanders compared to Wallonia.be/content/default. However. “la Chambre des représentants”.9% of the seats. But what they forget is that the integration process cannot occur if the „host society‟ is not open to immigration20..cfm?ID=606 26 IBZ. available on: http://parlement.lachambre. Evolution and Future of the Vlaams Blok and Its Electors in Flanders. in Marfouk (2013). far-right wing party that is known for its anticulticulturalism agenda (even if the position over immigrants is less strong than it was when the party was known as the Vlaams Blok a few years ago)25. 87. However. and Scheepers.. Pouvoirs. (1998). As in the national Parliament. i. available on: http://elections2009.e. When we look at facts. Wallonian farright wing parties are not represented in the Parliament.html 27 Le Parlement Wallon. 20 Marfouk (2013). the Vlaams Belang obtained 21 seats in 200926. In order to examine what creates these anti-immigration sentiments and why do they have such a big echo. Case study: Belgium 4. 8. 24 La Chambre. namely to be able to access the labour market. This vision of an ultra-nationalist Flanders is reinforced by the conclusion of various studies. on 150 members. Indeed. many Belgians have anti-immigration attitudes. avaible on : http://www. Parlement Flamand : Répartition des sièges. These differences are even more obvious in the Regions‟ Parliaments.e. immigrants are confronted to discrimination when it comes to enter this market in Belgium21.belgium. cit.1.be/fr/vla/seat/seat_VLR00000. often because they believe immigrants are taking advantage of Belgium‟s social security.. 16. Origin. P. Composition . Députés actuels par groupe politique.

1. In Wallonia. p. Indeed. 45. (Sub)nationalism and attitude towards immigrants. if extreme-right parties in Flanders are strong nationalist/separatist parties. op. and Beerten. (2009). J. (Sub)nationalism in Belgium In order to understand negatives attitudes towards immigration in the Belgian context. citizens with a strong Walloon identity tend to have a positive attitude towards foreigners. Een analyse op basis van de postelectorale verkiezingsonderzoeken 1991-1995-1999-2003-2007. in their analysis of Flemish anti-immigration sentiments.2. Leuven. (2011). which is historically right-wing. Moreover. while those with a strong Belgian identification are more positive. op. 30 Ibid. available on: http://www.U. More generally. M. cit. the extreme-right emphasises on belgicism34. Maddens. they are stable over time36. 22. 1999. 52 and Billiet (2011). while those with a strong Belgian identification are more negative.. Billiet and Beerten state that there is a link between the fact that citizens identify either with the official Belgian identity or with sub-national identities (Flanders and Wallonia) and their attitudes towards foreigners. neither is the political landscape and discourse32. the history of Wallonia and Flanders is not the same. 26. If these findings are not new (the paper was written in 2000). 4. J. 31 Ibid. Ethische minderhedenen de Vlaamse kiezers. but is determined to some extent by the social representation of the national identity in the social and political context 31. 35 Instituut voor Sociaal en Politiek Opinieonderzoek. left-wing Wallonia? Should the obligation to vote be abolished?”. In Flanders. J.U. while it resembles regionalism in Wallonia and is traditionally left-wing33. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 1993 and 2007.pdf 33 Maddens. it is important not to forget that there are two kinds of identities: national and sub-national. Billiet and Swyngedouw emphasize on the fact that negative attitudes of Flemish people towards ethnic minorities are among the highest of all European countries28. In their analysis of Belgian‟s attitude towards immigration.Leuven. R. Instituut voor Sociaal en Politiek Opinieonderzoek (ISPO) – K. (2000). Vol. CeSO – K. Billiet and Beerten (2000).30 This means that the relationship between both variables (national identity and attitudes towards immigration) is not intrinsic. as we have seen.rethinkingbelgium. National identity and the attitude towards foreigners in multinational states: the case of Belgium. it is the opposite: people with a stronger Flemish identity tend to be more opposed to immigrants/foreigners. First of all. what may suggest Flemish people are more hostile to immigration than the rest of Belgians. and Swyngedouw. sub-nationalism in Flanders is akin to separatism. cit. 32 Billiet. according to Billiet. No. What is really interesting about this research is that it shows that “both attitudes are inversely related in Flanders and Wallonia”29. nationalist parties in Flanders are more visible in Flanders compared to Wallonia. 28 Billiet.. who draws upon the ISPO35 rapports of 1995. in Wallonia. p. B. 29 Maddens. 8 .Moreover. PowerPoint presentated at Re-Bel event “Right-wing Flanders. cit. op. 34 Billiet (2011). p.eu/rebel-initiative-files/events/fifth-public-event-rightwing-flanders-left-wing-wallonia-and-obligation-vote/Billiet. Billiet.

and 30% in Brussels („Tableau 1‟). 39 Ibid.563. Indeed.154. cit.217. but they are not as high as in Wallonia. Brussels also have its particularities: those sentiments are less high than anywhere in Belgium. in comparison to 35% in Flanders. cit. We will thus try to explain the reasons of these trends. people must have Belgian origins. Moreover. Indeed. even if the immigration population is larger in Wallonia than it is in Flanders. and in which way they are related to the theory of economic self-interest or the one of marginality. as we will see. it seems to be the case in Brussels. Indeed. compared to 39% in Flanders („Tableau 2‟)38. with a significant half of respondents thinking that to be truly Belgian. With no certainty. Foreigners and Belgians 772.3 % 9. compared to 56% in Flanders („Tableau 1‟)39. share the cliché of the “myth of invasion by immigrants”: 60% of respondents believe that there are too many immigrants in Belgium nowadays.591 3.STAT37] Foreigners Belgians % of foreigners 33 % 7.122 9. This could actually support marginality theory.8 % Contrary to what we could have thought.3.864 1.fgov. The cultural version of marginality theory implies that the most diversity. as we will see. at least not to the country as a whole. 2003 et 2013.Why is this interesting? Because it shows that both parts of Belgium are very different and that the findings are not always what we could have guessed. I sometimes feel like a foreigner”. op. Population par sexe et nationalité pour la Belgique et les régions. Source: be.469 3.7 % 10.be/fr/statistiques/chiffres/population/structure/natact/beletr/#. because the immigrant population is larger in Brussels than in other parts of Belgium (see table). 37 9 ..882 5.432 11.099. 41% of Walloons agree with the statement “because of the number of immigrants in Belgium. the first clear difference is that people from Brussels are relatively more open to immigration than the rest of the Belgian population.904. 36 Billiet (2011).060 Walloon Region 1. Divergences between Wallonia.554 Belgium [Population on 1st January 2013.635 Region of Brussels-Cap. available on: http://statbel.195. Walloons. 4. more than other Belgians. this is.381.977 6. Marginality theory can thus not be applied to Belgium. op.. but not in Wallonia. 381.UswMM_TuJ_Q 38 Marfouk (2013). antiimmigration sentiments in Flanders may be high. not correlated with the „level‟ of antiimmigration sentiment.859 Flemish Region 345.913. Statistics Belgium. Flanders and Brussels When we look at facts. Walloons tend in fact to be the most opposed to immigration.771 467. the less the anti-immigration sentiment.

10. However.be/sites/all/modules/DGO5_MoteurRecherche/ 41 10 .In fact. available on: http://socialsante. op.8% of the people interrogated think that “foreigners are a burden for the country‟s social security”42. 40. and Bornand. IWEPS. Institut Wallon de l‟Evaluation. In the meantime. survey conducted by the IWEPS41. Attitudes des Wallons vis-à-vis des immigrés et de l’immigration : Analyse des données du Baromètre social de la Wallonie 2012-2013.wallonie. R. on most issues (the rise of criminality excluded) Walloons tend to be more negative than Flemish40. The latest social barometer of Wallonia. In order to see why Walloons are so reluctant to immigrants and immigration we need to examine the profile of the people that express those anti-immigration sentiments. what make us think that contrary to given ideas. (2013). T. permits to do so. cit. one of the most significant findings of the survey is that 66.. In correlation with the findings of the IWEPS‟ working paper based on the EVS. that will allow us to see if either the „economic self-interest‟ theory or the „marginality‟ theory can be applied to our Walloon case. de la Prospective et de la Statistique. Building 40 Marfouk (2013). p.3% of Walloons think that foreigners take away jobs from natives (for 42% in 2008 for the EVS). anti-immigration sentiments are higher in Wallonia compared to Flanders. 42 Cardelli.

respondents‟ „profiles‟ are being analysed.2% in Wallonia. as well as level of income and employment status (even if divergences are less strong). available on: http://www.1% Farm or isolated house 62. compared to 9. if we make the assumption that attitudes towards immigration are globally related to indicators such as income. Nationality Level of education Location of residence Employment status Occupation Income43 71. Indeed.be/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.7% Very easily While looking at this table it is hard to support „marginality‟ theory. 45 The threshold of poverty for an isolated person established at €1.pdf 11 . mouvements et marché du travail.1% Foreigners 77.php?download_file=Attitudes%20des%20Wallons%20vis%20a%20vis%20des%20immigres%20et% 20de%20immigration. using variables such as nationality.2% Employed 74. Observatoire de la Santé et du Social de Bruxelles-Capitale. Percentage of respondents that agree with the statement: “Immigrants are a burden for the country’s social security”. Indeed. L’immigration en Belgique: Effectifs. Not only „economic self interest‟ theory explains the situation in Wallonia. then it is explains why Wallonia gets higher figures than Flanders. To establish those facts in statistics.8% University degree 94. available on: http://www. who are supposedly at the margin of the society44. location of residence. in 2010. On cultural aspects. occupation or level of education.4% Manual workers 46. employment status. However. poverty and unemployment rate are higher in Wallonia than they are in Flanders.belgique. all the other data are opposed to the economic marginality theory and clearly hold up more for the „economic self-interest‟ theory. occupation and income. revenus 2004-2010. High level of education and „high-ranking‟ occupation highly influence people view on immigration. are more positive about immigration. (2009).8% Unemployed 65.emploi. Rapport 2009.4% Big city 71.6% High school to age 15 48.from the responses to this specific question.be/documents/indicateurs/pauvrete/2013decembre/fr/01_seuil-de-risque-de-pauvrete-par-region-revenus_2004-2010. employment status. 68% are coming from within the European Union [see Direction générale Emploi. the risk rate of poverty45 is 19.pdf 43 Question asked: “Are you able to make ends meet with your income?” 44 It is important not to forget that within Belgian immigrants.8% in Flanders46. but it can also explain the differences between Wallonia and Flanders.7% Belgians with foreign origin 38.1% With big difficulties 62.000 46 Taux de risque de pauvreté par région et en Belgique. it is true that foreigners.aspx?id=28772]. As for the unemployment download.observatbru.9% Chief executive 71. level of education.5% Belgians 55.

if economic self-interest theory helps us understand why Walloons have such sentiments.org/10. Moreover.emploi. If this was not the aim of the paper.1787/migr_outlook-2013-fr 12 .aspx?id=39096.doi.be/publicationDefault. Perspectives des migrations internationales 2013. the fiscal impacts of immigration in Belgium only represent 0. However. individual comportments should be maybe examined out of the sphere of the parties. but in a broader historical and societal context.rate. the ones immigrants that are often discriminated against are the 32 remaining percents.76% of the gross domestic product48. 47 Conseil Supérieur de l‟Emploi (2013).belgique.6%)47. what people often do not know is that immigration remains a small proportion of the spending of the welfare state. while the rate was more than half big in Flanders (4. A more extensive study could also have enlightened more the ambiguous links that exist between the dominant parties and negative sentiments towards immigration in Belgium. Indeed. Editions OCDE. Indeed. we have been able to make the assumption that motives for anti-immigration sentiments can be found in economic self-interest. p. Conclusion With this paper. 51. Travail et Concertation sociale. 68% of the immigrants living in Belgium are coming from countries within the European Union. Service public fédéral Emploi. an analysis of what is really happening in terms of immigration could also be an opportunity for reflection. it gives us an explanation about the reason why negative attitudes towards immigration tend to be more common in this part of Belgium than it is in Flanders.1% were unemployed in Wallonia. available on: http://dx. Since it is clearly the case in Wallonia. it can be seen as contradictory with the fact that Wallonia is on the left side of the political spectrum. available on: http://www. 10. 48 OCDE (2013). This brings us to the idea that in certain situations. it may be less easy to fall for the whole „invasion‟ myth. in 2012. Indeed. Indeed. following a study conducted by the OECD in 2013. as well as from poverty. p. 171. in the active population aged from 15 to 64 years old. Flanders appears to suffer less from unemployment. as we have mentioned briefly. Rapport 2013 : Les personnes faiblement qualifiées sur le marché du travail. and if everyone realised this.

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