Surveys show that respondents from East Germany consistently show higher levels of ethnic prejudice than respondents from West Germany. Comparable differences can be found in statistics on crimes and violence against ethnic minority members. On the basis of three surveys (ALLBUS, 1996, N = 2893; Shell Youth Study (Deutsche Shell), 2000, N = 3560; and our own survey of school students, N = 769), the hypothesis that this difference can be largely explained by contrasting interethnic contact opportunities and experiences is tested and supported. Demographic data show that living in the Eastern or Western part of Germany offers differential opportunities for contact with foreigners. Structural equation analyses reveal that this difference, in turn, influences the number of foreigners in the neighborhood or classroom. As a consequence of these varying opportunities for contact, respondents report marked differences in more intimate and personal contact—such as having foreign friends or experiencing contact of personal importance. Foreign friends and importance of contact proved to be the relevant proximal contact variables that reduce ethnic prejudice. Beyond the German context, these results point to a more inclusive model of intergroup relations.

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