Summary One of the most consistent findings in research on inter-ethnic relations, and specifically anti-immigrant sentiment, is the inverse relationship between education and prejudice. The literature largely regards education to have a causal effect on ethnic out-group attitudes, making individuals less prejudiced, without taking into account if increases in education actually lead to lower levels of prejudice. Indeed, despite the existence of a large literature of attitudes toward immigrants, immigration, and racial/ethnic minorities, it remains unclear if education matters for attitudes. An important reason for this significant gap in our understanding is the lack of longitudinal studies at the individual-level.
In addition to not fully understanding if education matters for these attitudes, we also lack knowledge of why education matters for prejudice—that is, the mechanisms that theoretically give rise to this relationship are not well established empirically. Moreover, other important questions exist about the scope of the education effect, for example, when is the effect of education most pronounced and what type of education is most influential, among others. Further, the scholarship on ethnic prejudice has mostly focused in Western Europe and North America and almost exclusively on attitudes of the ethnic majority and native-born, while paying little attention to whether this robust correlation is, in fact, universal. In other words, it remains unclear whether education works similarly in non-Western countries or among immigrants and ethnic minorities in Western countries. Research into the evolution of attitudes and prejudice is scarce, which means we lack a clear understanding about if, why, when, how, and to what extent education matters for attitudes.
The overarching aim of my research is to investigate empirically the theoretical link between education and ethnic out-group attitudes. Despite the large theoretical and empirical literatures on prejudice, if, when, and to what extent education matters for out-group attitudes remains unclear. More importantly, the evolution of these attitudes over time is far from understood. In order to capture the temporal change in attitudes, I investigate how prejudice evolves over time using longitudinal data within countries, by examining the effect of education at the individual- and regional-level.