Subjective national wellbeing and xenophobia in sub-Saharan Africa: results and lessons from South Africa

SOURCE: New dimensions in community well-being
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
SOURCE EDITOR(S): P.Kraeger, S.Cloutier, C.Talmage
DEPARTMENT: Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9850
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/11054

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, political leaders tend to link the presence of immigrants with dangers to the national community and accuse foreigners of seeking to take jobs, power and land from true autochthons. Emphasising their autochthonous status, such leaders blame immigrant communities for a decline in national wellbeing and rationalise discriminatory action against them as a defence of the collective community. This chapter aims to analyse subjective national wellbeing using public opinion data and to map the linkages between national wellbeing and xenophobia. The chapter will explore this hypothesis within each of Hadley Cantril???s classic three subjective wellbeing ladder groups. Using South Africa as a case study, this is the first time that such tests will be conducted in a Sub-Saharan African environment. The chapter used data from the 2012 South African Social Attitudes Survey, a nationally representative opinion poll of 2521 respondents. Standard linear multivariate regression is used to test the relationship between subjective national wellbeing and xenophobia. Among each of the Cantril subgroups, there were similar predictors of pro-immigrant sentiment: intergroup contact, perceived consequences of immigration and subjective national wellbeing. Improving levels of subjective national wellbeing in the country will, therefore, have a negative impact on xenophobia in the country. This chapter will conclude by discussing future areas of research to explore and present recommendations on how quality of life research can be used to better understand prejudice in countries like Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.