We study how exposure to refugees influences attitudes to immigration for a representative sample of the Dutch population. An average zero effect of living near a refugee center hides considerable heterogeneity both by individual characteristics and dimensions of exposure: proximity, duration of exposure and refugee numbers play a role. Exposure to small numbers of refugees has a significantly positive effect on attitudes if experienced for a long enough time. Exposure to large numbers of refugees significantly reduces attitudes, but only with a short duration of exposure. These results are strongest when the refugee centre is in close proximity. Our identification relies on variation in exposure due to the allocation of asylum seekers to refugee centres across municipalities in the Netherlands. Specifically, we follow a difference-in-differences and panel fixed effects approach comparing “exposed” and “unexposed” individuals while controlling for characteristics of the municipality, neighbourhood and individual.


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