Economic Valuations and Interethnic Fears: Perceptions of Chinese Migration in the Russian Far East

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Alexseev, Mikhail A. (2003) Economic Valuations and Interethnic Fears: Perceptions of Chinese Migration in the Russian Far East , Journal of Peace Research 40(1): 85–102.

When members of one ethnic group feel threatened by population trends favoring ethnic 'others', would perceived economic gains associated with such population change - as in many cases of migration - reduce perceived threats to security and interethnic hostility? An ideal quasi-experimental setting for addressing this question is Chinese cross-border migration into the Russian Far East, where the author designed and directed an opinion survey in September 2000 with 1,010 respondents selected through stratified random sampling. Findings based on multiple regression analysis suggest that individuals who perceive interactions with members of a culturally distant ethnic group as economically beneficial feel less threatened and favor less hostile responses toward ethnic 'others' - even if these individuals adhere to negative stereotypes against the latter. Strong effects of perceived economic gains (or losses) with respect to the local economy endure when controlled for party identification, perceptions of relative deprivation, perceptions of the neighboring state's intent to undertake aggressive actions, and perceptions of military balance, as well as for local economic and demographic trends. For both threat and hostility, perceptions of total economic effects attributed to ethnic 'others' - but not perceptions of relative gains among groups - are found to be a significant predictor.