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Daniel Herda's Article, "How Many Immigrants?" Forthcoming in Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2010

This paper explores the tendency to over-estimate minority and immigrant population sizes across 21 European nations, using data from the 2002 European Social Survey.

Individuals frequently perceive immigrant and minority population sizes to be much larger than they are in reality. To date, little is understood about the extent or causes of this phenomenon, known as innumeracy, which may have consequences for inter-group relations. However, before the literature can assess these consequences, a better understanding of the development of these misperceptions is needed. The extant literature focuses only on the United States and lacks a clear understanding of how innumeracy arises. Drawing from the 2002 European Social Survey (ESS), this study attempts to make sense of this phenomenon by proposing and testing a framework that views innumeracy among majority group members as developing in two ways: as cognitive mistakes and emotional responses. I establish the existence and extent of the phenomenon across 21 European nations, test new key predictors such as media exposure and socio-economic status, and find independent associations with cognitive and emotional factors using multi-level regression analyses.


The paper should be published in the Summer 2010 issue and is currently available on the Public Opinion Quarterly Advance Access system: http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/nfq013