Working paper

The Evolution of First-Generation Immigrants' Political Preferences in Western Europe

Jérôme Gonnot


This paper documents the evolution of a range of political preferences among first-generation immigrants in Western Europe. The overall aim is to study to what extent and at what pace immigrants adapt to the political norms that prevail in their host countries. I use a cross-national research strategy to compare and analyze attitudes of foreign-born individuals in 16 European countries and nd strong empirical support for assimilation over time: On average, the opinion gap between natives and immigrants' political preferences on redistribution, gay rights, EU unification, immigration policies, and trust level in national governments is reduced by 40% after 20 years of residence in the destination country. I also provide evidence that most of this assimilation is driven by immigrants from non-developed countries, and that convergence in political preferences varies significantly across immigrants' economic and cultural background as well as with the size of the immigrant group from their country of origin. Finally, I show that a substantial part of assimilation on gay rights, immigration and political trust is driven by acculturation at the national level where immigrants with longer tenure tend to adapt more to the political preferences of natives in their destination country. These findings shed new light on the timing and magnitude of the political assimilation of first-generation immigrants, with potentially important implications for the political economy of immigration policy.


Jérôme Gonnot, The Evolution of First-Generation Immigrants' Political Preferences in Western Europe, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1145, September 2020.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1145, September 2020