ARE THE ATTITUDES OF EUROPEANS TOWARDS IMMIGRANTS RELATED TO THEIR ATTITUDES TOWARDS GENDER RELATIONS, FERTILITY BEHAVIOR AND THE MEANING OF CHILDREN?
Inconvenient demographic trends in Europe, particularly low fertility rates, ageing society, and their social consequences are more and more highly debated in political and academic arenas. Beside pronatalist measures, immigration policies are amongst the most likely scenarios that could solve this demographic situation in Europe. However, neither the European public opinion nor the governments of the EU support open immigration. In this line, the authors of the essay interpret the attitudes of respondents towards immigrants in the frame of the international survey The Population Policy Acceptance. The authors assume that the attitudes towards immigrants are underlined also by the individual's assessment of fertility behaviour, partnership, gender roles and children. Namely, the ideologies on national identity through discussions on national reproduction implicitly determine also the outsiders (immigrants, minorities, foreigners, asylum seekers), defining who should be reproduced and to what extent.
The study was carried out in eight countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia) during the year 2000 and 2003. The review of recent theoretical approaches pertaining to the attitudes towards foreigners leads the authors to formulate some basic hypotheses to test the relations between the attitudes towards immigrants on the one hand, and the attitudes related to fertility, partnership, gender roles and children on the other hand. The analysis shows that the negative assessments of immigrants strongly prevail over the positive assessments. The bivariate correlation analysis further reveals that the negative attitudes towards immigrants increase in conjunction with the rise of support of traditional gender roles, negative evaluation of changes in partnership behaviour (increasing divorces, decline of marriages, childlessness, increasing births out of wedlock), and the meaning of children for parents. Contrary to authors’ initial expectation, the relation between attitudes towards immigrants and fertility behaviour proves one among the most weak in all countries included in the survey. This result is in accord with those researchers who emphasize the paradox of public negative reaction to immigrants in Europe in the time when immigration is considered as one among the most likely solution of unfavourable demographic trends in Europe. The results obtained also call for more systematic studying the representations of national identities or/and national populations and national communities. Through the discussions on national reproduction, “proper” attitudes towards motherhood, family forms, gender roles and finally outsiders are defined.