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What drives anti-immigrant sentiment among youths in Ecuador?

Four researchers from Leiden University’s Institute of Political Science have been awarded a grant to jointly investigate attitudes towards Venezuelan immigrants among youths in Ecuador. Combining their expertise and collaborating with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, they will focus on school-going youths and on designing policy interventions to improve the acceptance of migrants in Ecuador, and potentially beyond.

Criminalisation of migrants

Venezuela’s recent social, political, and economic crisis has led over 4 million Venezuelans to flee the country, primarily towards Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. This exodus has led to hostile reactions from host populations. In Ecuador, negative attitudes towards the more than 400.000 Venezuelan migrants who have settled there since 2015 have increased and migrants are in particular blamed for crime and insecurity. This trend led the research team to focus on how the criminalisation of migrants can be reduced and which type of policy interventions are best equipped at doing so.

Positive information

During the coming two years, the team will administer a survey among high school students in Ecuador to investigate the factors associated with the negative stereotyping of migrants. In addition, survey experiments will be used to investigate whether presenting youths with positive information on migrants and increasing empathy with migrants reduces negative attitudes.

The project focuses specifically on school-going youths as they can be effectively targeted by governments for policy interventions and are at the age where political attitudes are still developing. With the project, the team aims to provide the evidence needed to help design policy interventions to improve migrant-host society relations in Ecuador, and potentially beyond.

Expertise in Leiden and Quito

Diana Dávila Gordillo is the Principal Investigator of the project. She provides in-depth knowledge of the migration-related challenges facing Ecuador, as well as substantial expertise with local data collection. At Leiden, the team also includes Katharina Natter, who is an expert on migration policies in the Global South; Leila Demarest, who studies the political attitudes of youths in the developing world, including through surveys; and Juan Masullo Jimenez, who conducts survey-based research on public attitudes in contexts of crime and violence in Latin America.

At the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, the team is completed by Paolo Moncagatta, who has extensive experience with the analysis and implementation of survey research on political attitudes in Ecuador.

EGAP: Evidence in Governance and Politics

Actionable governance innovation

The grant has been awarded by the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network, which aims to support research that can provide the empirical evidence needed by policymakers to assist them in addressing societal challenges. The project was specifically developed in response to a call by EGAP’s Latin America Hub, which focuses on regional challenges and supporting locally rooted scholarship. With its call, the organisation sought to sponsor quantitative research projects on the topics of displacement, migration, and integration, that could allow for actionable governance innovation.

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