Who Believes the Country Belongs to Their Ethnic Ingroup? The Background Characteristics of ‘Owners’ and Their Support for Stricter Immigration Policies Across Three Western Societies


  • Lianne Straver
  • Borja Martinović
  • Tom Nijs
  • Wybren Nooitgedagt
  • Nora Storz


We examined if ethnic majority members with different background characteristics (national identification, political orientation, gender, education, and age) differ in the perception that their ethnic group owns the country they live in, and whether this can explain their opinions about stricter immigration policies. Using nationally diverse samples of Anglo-Australian (N = 475), Dutch (N = 599), and British participants (N = 1005), we found that ownership beliefs were consistently positively associated with support for stricter immigration policies. Further, we showed that ownership beliefs were stronger among higher national identifiers, men, right-wing, lower educated (United Kingdom only), and older people (Australia only), and ownership partially accounted for these groups’ stronger endorsement of stricter immigration policies. Our study underscores the relevance of ownership beliefs as a novel construct that can explain the relation between personal background characteristics and anti-immigration stance among ethnic majority populations in Western countries.