Global views on Immigration and the Refugee Crisis

Three in four (75%) in 25 countries around the world believe that immigration has increased in their country over the last five years, according to new data from the Ipsos Global @dvisor survey.

Global views on Immigration and the Refugee Crisis

  • Over four in ten say immigration is causing their country to change in ways they do not like
  • Twice as many think immigration has had a negative impact on their country than positive

However, Australia bucks the trend as we had a decrease in the number of people thinking that immigration has increased (down 13 percentage points from 81% in 2011 to 68% in 2017).

The survey, among online adults aged under 65 in Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States, also finds that, while overall perceptions are somewhat similar to last year (78% in July 2016), there have been significant shifts in perceptions in several countries when considering the overall trend since 2011. For example, Germany and Sweden have seen the largest increase in the number of people thinking immigration has increased (up 22 and 24 percentage points from 2011 to 85% and 90% respectively).

Key findings are outlined below:

Perceptions about immigration

  • One in five (21%) on average say that immigration has had a positive effect on their country compared with two in five (42%) who say it has had a negative impact. Australia tends to look more positively upon immigration with almost two in five (38%) stating that immigration has had a positive effect in this country. Saudi Arabia, India, and Britain are the most positive countries where two in five or more say immigration has had a positive impact. Turkey, Italy, Hungary and Serbia are most negative with at least three in five (58%) saying it has had a negative impact.
  • Britain and the United States are the two countries which have had the largest positive change since 2011. In Britain, two in five (40%) now say immigration has had a positive impact (up from 19% in 2011) while 35% in the US say the same (up from 18% in 2011). Australia has also seen a positive increase (from 31% in 2011 to 38% in 2017). Sweden has seen the largest movement of people becoming more negative, with a quarter (25%) now saying immigration has been positive compared with 37% in 2011.
  • Half (48%) on average think that there are too many immigrants in their country. Australia sits close to the average with 43% agreeing that “there are too many immigrants in our country”. Turkey has the highest number of people thinking this (83%), followed by Italy (66%), South Africa (62%), and Russia (62%).
  • Just under half (44%), on average, say that immigration is causing their country to change in ways that they do not like. Australia remains close to the average with almost half (45%) agreeing that “immigration is causing my country to change in ways I don’t like”. Again, those in Italy and Turkey were most likely to say this (77% and 63% respectively) while people in Brazil and South Korea were the least likely (23% and 24% respectively).

Impact of Immigration

  • On average half (49%) think that immigration has placed too much pressure on public services in their country, while just one in five (19%) disagree. Britain and Australia have seen the biggest decrease in the proportion of people agreeing to this since 2011 – down 20 points in Britain (now at 58%) and down 13 points in Australia (now at 51%). The largest increase is seen in Turkey – now at 73% (up from 45% in 2011), and in Sweden – at 56% (up from 40%).
  • When considering the economy 28% overall agree that immigration has had a positive impact (no change from 2016 or 2011). People in Saudi Arabia (50%), Britain (47%), and New Zealand (47%) tend to be most positive with Australia not far behind at (41%), while those in Serbia (8%), Russia (9%), and Hungary (9%) are least positive. Turkey (78%), Russia (64%), and South Africa (58%) are most likely to agree that immigrants have made it more difficult for people their country to find jobs, with those in Sweden (21%), Serbia (21%), and Japan (26%) the least likely to agree to this. Less than half of Australian respondents (44%) agreed that immigrants have made it more difficult to find a job in their country, a decrease from 50% in 2011. Overall two in five (40%) say they agree priority should be given to immigrants with higher education and qualifications (no change from 2016). People in New Zealand (58%), Saudi Arabia (56%), and Britain (55%) are most likely to want to prioritise educated immigrants. Australians were also more likely to agree than disagree (51%, though this was a decrease of 10 percentage points from 61% in 2011)
  • Only three in ten (31%) globally believe immigrants make their country a more interesting place to live, with the highest scores seen in Britain, New Zealand (both 49%) and Australia (48%). Britain has seen a significant change since 2011 (up 16 points), becoming much more positive. Serbia (8%), Russia (10%), and Hungary (10%) are the countries with the fewest people showing positive attitudes towards immigration’s cultural impact.

Attitudes to refugee crisis

  • Four in ten (39%) on average want to close their borders to refugees entirely (no change from 2016) while half (51%) disagree. Those in Turkey (63%) and Hungary (61%) are most likely to agree to such a move with those in Japan (21%) and Mexico (22%) least likely. Over a third of Australians (35%) agreed that their country cannot accept any refugees at this time.
  • Three in five (59%) on average think terrorists are pretending to be refugees to get into their country. This belief is highest in Turkey and Russia (82% in both) while lowest in Spain (19%) and Serbia (36%). A majority of those in Australia also believe this to be true (61%)
  • Over half of people (53%) world-wide believe most refugees coming to their country are not really refugees, but economic migrants, a belief that is mirrored by almost half of those in Australia (48%).
  • Only 43% on average are confident that refugees coming to their country will successfully integrate into their country, with Serbia (70%) and Peru (65%) being most confident. Australia reflects the average with 45% also confident in the successful integration of refugees.

Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director Ipsos Social Research Institute - NSW said: “Australia continues to be one of the more positive countries globally in terms of its view on immigration and refugees.  Despite the current political environment and media coverage of those with more extreme views on immigration we still see ourselves as a multi-cultural society and see the benefits that brings.  Further our analysis shows countries with a higher proportion of immigrants tend to have a more positive view about immigration.

The other interesting finding is that Australia bucks the trend in regards to beliefs about immigration being on the rise.  It’s not clear why we stand out on this question.  Is it a view that is driven by discussion of the tightening of 457 Visas and constraints on foreign workers, is it driven by the ‘stop the boats’ policy, or are Australians better informed about immigration levels than others around the world?”

 

17,903 interviews were conducted between June 24th – July 8th 2017 among adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. The survey was conducted in 25 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.