Aristotelian Equality and International Cooperation: Europeans Prefer a Proportional Asylum Regime
Working Paper
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What type of asylum regime do European citizens support? Based on a survey experiment involving 18,000 citizens across fifteen European countries, we examine public support for alternative mechanisms for allocating asylum seekers across Europe. We provide novel evidence showing that public preferences on this issue are driven largely by adherence to the Aristotelian norm of proportional equality, which tends to override consequentialist considerations. Specifically, we find that a large majority supports a proportional allocation regime, whereby asylum seekers would be allocated proportional to each country’s capacity, over the current status quo policy under the Dublin Regulation. This majority support is weakened but persists even when citizens are made aware that moving to proportional allocation would increase the number of asylum seekers allocated to their own country. These findings suggest citizens care not only about the consequences of international policy but also about the inherent fairness of its institutional design, and they present a potential pathway toward reform of the European asylum system that would be agreeable at both the international and domestic level.

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