This paper examines the impact of private, quasi-market versus public steering of educational systems on European youngsters’ attitudes towards immigrants. There has recently been a drive for a quasi-market strategy in the provision of education, inspired by the hope that this will increase both quality and cost-effectiveness. However, research has shown that this policy leads to greater inequality between schools and individual pupils. In this paper we use the data from the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS 2009) to see whether the extent of market steering lessens support for immigrants’ rights. Such an effect is expected because market steering is thought to increase the inequality between schools and to lead to a concentration of immigrant children in schools where pupils with weak socio-economic backgrounds are concentrated. The focus of the analysis is on the country level variation in the attitudes towards immigrants. Controlling for overall immigration pressure, quasi-market systems are observed to lead to less support for immigrants’ rights, and this is largely due to the higher concentration of immigrant children in low SES schools in such systems. These characteristics of the educational system explain about half of the cross-national variation in attitudes towards immigrants among the 21 countries observed.
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