A newly released report produced by International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides a global overview of people’s attitudes towards immigration. The full findings of the report were presented at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Monitoring public attitudes towards immigration and understanding what shapes such attitudes are essential to identify how to combat anti-migrant sentiment – which is one of the key recommendations of the 2013 High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development.
People were asked two questions about immigration: In your view, should immigration in this country be kept at its present level, increased or decreased? Do you think immigrants mostly take jobs that citizens in this country do not want or jobs that citizens in this country want?
The study, based on interviews conducted by Gallup with over 183,000 adults across over 140 countries between 2012 and 2014, shows that people around the world are not as opposed to immigration as may be commonly assumed.
Approximately 43 per cent favour increasing or keeping stable the numbers of immigrants in their countries, while only 34 per cent support lower levels of immigration.
Residents in the Americas generally showed more positive attitudes towards immigration. Australia and New Zealand were mostly positive towards immigration. The same was true for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, where temporary migrant workers represent the highest percentage the total population worldwide.
People in Europe appeared to be the most negative towards immigration, with over half of all respondents favoring lower immigration levels in their countries.
Attitudes differed substantially between Northern Europe – with people in Sweden, Denmark and Finland being generally positive about immigration – and Southern Europe, where a high percentage of people in Greece, Malta and Italy wanted to see immigration reduced.
Interestingly, adults with tertiary education are more likely to favor increasing immigration levels than people with lower levels of education. Younger age is also generally associated with more positive attitudes towards newcomers.
People who believe their personal or country’s economic situation are worsening, are more likely to favor lower immigration levels in their countries, and vice versa.
Since public opinion on migration plays an important role in the design and effectiveness of integration policies in most countries, it is important to regularly monitor it to make sure policies can achieve their intended results