Gender-Based Asylum: Public Perceptions of Asylum Seekers and the Role of Gender Open Access

Fleischmann, Hannah (Spring 2020)

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With over 70 million people displaced worldwide, states struggle to uphold international asylum law, while also creating publicly supported domestic policies. The influence of public opinion is evident in the Trump administration’s restrictive asylum policies, but little research has been done on U.S. public perceptions of asylum seekers and the impact of different claims of asylum. Gendered claims of asylum in particular have experienced a history of discriminatory practices and barriers to establishing legitimacy, yet there is a significant gap in the literature on gender- based asylum. Utilizing an Amazon Mechanical Turk experimental design, this study examines the factors that influence attitudes toward asylum seekers, as well as the specific roles of gender and gendered claims of asylum. The primary findings of the study are not significant, but may imply that individual attitudes toward asylum seekers are based more on the demographic makeup of the individual than asylum seekers themselves. Republican, Conservative, and male respondents had more negative attitudes toward asylum seekers, with Republican respondents significantly more likely to view gender-based asylum seekers as a threat. The limitations of the study and challenges with the survey platform and design are discussed as possible explanations for the overall null findings. 

Table of Contents

Introduction - 1

Research Questions - 6

Literature Review - 8

Attitudes Toward Asylum Seekers - 8

Gendered Claims of Asylum - 14

Theories and Hypotheses - 19

Research Design - 28

Survey Experiment Overview - 28

Sample - 30

Variables - 30

Methods - 33

Results - 38

Discussion - 52

Conclusion - 60

Appendix - 63

Appendix A. - 63

Appendix B. - 64

Appendix C. - 67

Appendix D. - 68

References - 69


Table 1. Key of Attitude Statement Abbreviations - 38

Table 2.A. Difference of Means Test: Domestic Violence (F) vs. Control - 39

Table 2.B. Difference of Means Test: Rape by an Armed Group (F) vs. Control - 39

Table 2.C. Difference of Means Test: Widespread Violence (F) vs. Control - 40

Table 2.D. Difference of Means Test: Widespread Violence (M) vs. Control - 40

Table 2.E. Difference of Means Test: Political Persecution (M) vs. Control - 41

Table 2.F. Difference of Means Test: Political Persecution (F) vs. Control -41

Table 3. Regression Analysis of Treatment Effects - 43

Table 4. Difference of Means Test - Both Comprehension Checks Correct vs. Both Incorrect - 44

Table 5. Regression Analysis with Demographic Covariates - 45

Table 6: Attitude Means by Party Identification - 46

Table 7. Attitude Means by Political Ideology - 47

Table 8. Attitude Means by Gender - 48

Table 9. Attitude Means by Recent Contact - 49

Table 10. Attitude Means by Urban vs. Non-Urban - 50 

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