Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Fred Pampel

Second Advisor

Janet Jacobs

Third Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn


Nationalist attitudes and nationalism have long been of interest to social scientists yet studies have been inconclusive on many of their aspects. My research examines national identity from a new perspective and provides outlines of relationships that exist between education, national identity, economic development in the world, and other country-level characteristics. National identity is operationalized in several different ways: first as national pride and a national pride scale, then separately as the ethnic and the civic components of national identity, and as combined national identity. I also consider additional macro-structural variables: human development, democracy, ethnic, linguistic, and religious homogeneity, and the values-related variables of levels of self-expression and secularity. I combine the micro and macro approaches to national identity by considering individual level characteristics (focusing on education) that are associated with national identity, and macro-level ones that might influence how micro-structural factors determine national identity. I theorize that in developed countries national identity decreases with higher levels of education but that in developing countries the levels of national identity are higher among the more educated. I use the fifth wave of the World Values Survey with 57 countries at all levels of development with data collected in 2005-2008. Matching the individual-level survey data with aggregate measures of economic development and political and cultural factors allows for multilevel analyses with cross-level interactions that link national identity and education in varied societal contexts. The results support my hypotheses and suggest that people's national identity is influenced by micro- and macro-structural factors, and that the levels of economic development, human development, and democracy have a facilitating effect on the negative influence of education on national identity that pushes this relationship even more into the negative territory for wealthier, more developed countries. The results for country-level variables related to culture are mixed but in their majority support my hypotheses and are theoretically explainable. Finally, I test my hypotheses by examining how people's education influences preferences for restrictive immigration policies across the countries of the world. This is a more practical application of the abstract concepts investigated in my dissertation. On the individual level, education decreases the preferences for restrictive immigration policies; on the country-level, it increases preferences for restrictive immigration policies, and on the micro/macro level higher economic development facilitates the negative influence of education on the preferences for restrictive immigration policies. These results confirm the links between education, national identity, and attitudes toward immigration. More research is needed, especially with regard to cultural factors (e.g., religion) influencing national identity on cross-national levels. In addition to the multilevel modeling methods I used in my dissertation, I recommend in-depth historical-comparative studies of countries with varied national characteristics.