The dark side of the German ‘welcome culture’: investigating the causes behind attacks on refugees in 2015
In 2015, Germany experienced a record high influx of refugees – and received international praise for its ‘welcome culture’. At the same time, however, attacks on refugees rose to an alarming level. This article describes the distribution of these attacks and probes their causes, using detailed socioeconomic and political data while modelling a hierarchical data structure. Controlling for further relevant factors taken from the extant literature, the analysis first tests whether the strength of extreme right political parties plays a role and, second, it models a contagion effect, taking into account spatial as well as temporal proximity. The findings suggest that the strength of right-wing parties in a district considerably boosts the probability of attacks on refugees in that area. They also corroborate the idea of behavioural contagion. The set of social-structural variables employed as controls yielded only limited explanatory power.