Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Sociological Perspectives


Pacific Sociological Association

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The tendency to overestimate immigrant population sizes has garnered considerable scholarly attention for its potential link to anti-immigrant policy support. However, this existing innumeracy research has neglected other forms of ignorance, namely underestimation and nonresponse. Using the 2002 European Social Survey, the current study examines the full scope of innumeracy for the first time. Results indicate that underestimation and nonresponse occur commonly across twenty-one countries and that overestimation is far from ubiquitous. Nonresponders in particular are found to represent a distinct innumeracy form associated with low cognitive availability and high negative affect. Multilevel models indicate that underestimation associates with greater opposition to anti-immigrant policy, while overestimation and nonresponse associate with greater support. Much of these associations are explained by affective factors. However, significant under- and overestimation coefficients remain net of controls, suggesting that innumeracy may be more important than initially thought. Overall, the results highlight the multifaceted character of innumeracy.