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Article

Migrant Integration Policies, Perceived Group Threat and Generalized trust: A Case of European Countries

The large inflow of migrants into Europe in recent years has triggered more frequent discussions on how useful a pro-integrative migration policy is for society. There have been many studies considering various aspects of migrant integration policy, but its impact on social capital, particularly on an aspect as crucial as generalized trust, still requires further investigation.  In our study, we use the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) and data on generalized trust and the mainstream population’s perceptions of group threat from immigrants using the European Social Survey (ESS) database to explore the relationship between generalized trust and both the total MIPEX and its components. Our database included 23 European countries and 39,079 respondents. We hypothesized that a pro-integrative migration policy would be connected with generalized trust indirectly via reduced perceived group threat from immigrants. The study identified a positive relationship between total MIPEX scores and generalized trust mediated via lowered perceptions of group threat. However, the effects of eight individual MIPEX components were discovered to be different. We discuss limitations related to the generalizability of our results, given that patterns may be different in North America where cultural distance between majority and most migrant groups are typically higher. We thus suggest that future research on generalized trust examine variables related to values and cultural distance and proximity between the mainstream and migrant groups.