OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market, social policy and migration studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

English, French

How do Europeans differ in their attitudes to immigration?

Findings from the European Social Survey 2002/03 – 2016/17

Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland have been consistently the most favourable to immigration while eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary have been the least favourable. Despite their relatively high average levels of support for immigration, however, many countries of western and northern Europe are quite strongly polarized internally along educational and age lines. This can perhaps explain why political divisions over immigration can be so salient in these countries. Comparing results from 2002/03 and 2016/07, one finds that European attitudes were on average quite stable. However, a number of countries became more generous while several others became more negative. On the issue of government policy towards refugees, there was a marked shift in a negative direction after the 2015/16 refugee crisis. Countries such as Austria, Germany, and Sweden which had experienced large inflows of refugees showed particularly large declines in public support for generous government policy towards asylum requests.


Keywords: Immigration, Public opinion, Refugees, European Social Survey, Symbolic boundaries
JEL: F22: International Economics / International Factor Movements and International Business / International Migration; J61: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers; J16: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
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