The effects of contact and competition
on tolerance of immigrants in France
First, existing analyses of the effects of two contextual features – contact and competition – on native individuals’ tolerance of immigrants or xenophobia are presented. The current understanding is that relatively frequent contact with the immigrant population goes along with increased tolerance ; conversely, competition has a negative impact on tolerance, with xenophobia likely to increase when natives feel they are in economic competition with the immigrant population. These two effects were empirically tested for France using the French segment of the European Values Survey ; specifically, data on the départements in which our respondents live. It was found that contact and competition do affect tolerance of immigrants in France and that these two effects, both robust and stable, coexist while the contact effect is sensitive to educational attainment. Interaction between the two effects is also examined : in a context of high unemployment, the positive effect of contact disappears while the negative effect of competition is sharper among people living in départements with a relatively high proportion of immigrants.