The following is based on data collected between May 7 and 17, 2004, in Japan, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the United States by Ipsos Public Affairs and the Associated Press. The subject is citizens' reactions to immigration, based on responses to the following questions:
Immigration A Touchy Subject In Some Countries
Within a context of high concerns over unemployment and terrorism, and in Europe, worries that the EU's expansion will usher in a flood of immigration, citizens in many of the countries that Ipsos/AP polled expressed negative feelings about immigrants in their country. But in one country after another, those with more education tended to have the most positive view of the influence of immigration.
Homogeneity or Diversity?
- Despite thinking that immigrants mostly take jobs that other citizens wouldn't want, more citizens in the U.S. and the European countries surveyed consider immigrants as having a negative influence on their country than consider immigrants' influence as positive. Britons expressed the strongest negative feelings (60%) of any of the nine countries polled.
- In Mexico, almost half of citizens do not agree that it's mostly bad jobs that immigrants are taking, in addition to a majority opinion that immigrants are a negative force on the country.
- The situation changes in Canada, where most citizens think that immigrants are good for the country and that they fill positions other Canadians wouldn't want.
- In Japan, opinion is split on whether immigrants represent a positive or negative force in their country, though a large majority believes that it's mostly undesirable jobs that are being occupied by immigrants.
- In Mexico, a large majority (71%) said they think it's better if almost everyone in a country shares the same customs and traditions. But in Canada and especially the U.S., such a statement received only minority agreement (40% in Canada and 27% in the U.S.). In Japan, too, more people disagreed than agreed with the statement "It is better for a country if almost everyone shares the same customs and traditions."
- In Europe, citizens were divided in their responses to the statement, with nearly half agreeing in the U.K., Italy, and Germany and just over half agreeing in Spain and France.
- The statement " It is better for a country to have a variety of people with different religions" elicited broader and stronger agreement across the survey, though a large minority of Germans (42%) disagreed.
Immigration--and the extent to which a country encourages or puts roadblocks up to immigration--is an especially hot topic in Europe right now as the EU expands. Giles Coleman, who monitors European public opinion for Ipsos, says immigration is among the top issues Europeans want addressed in elections there, after unemployment.
Of the especially high negative feelings expressed toward immigrants in the U.K., Sam McGuire, of Ipsos-UK, said that they may well have to do with the stories circulating that predict a fresh wave of immigration because of EU expansion.
With regard to Germans' reactions, Christian Holst, director of public affairs for Ipsos Germany, said they may be related to post-Sept. 11 fears about security and terrorism, as well as to Germany's relatively high unemployment rate.
Still, many industrial countries share the experience of Spain, where an influx of immigrants provides laborers for work in olive and fruit groves, or at construction sites or greenhouses. The data show that most citizens polled recognize this (i.e., that immigrants take jobs that ordinary citizens wouldn't want); but apparently this isn't enough to sway their overall view on immigration toward the positive.
The Globus Research Methodology
This alert was based on an Ipsos Globus: International Affairs poll taken between May 7 and 17, 2004, in nine countries, with a margin of error of plus/minus 3 percentage points. The nationally representative samples consisted of:
For further information about Globus and our other global research survey, World Monitor, or about the work conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, please email Brian R. Scanlon, Director of Sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him by phone at 202-463-7300.
To view the complete filled-in questionnaire for this survey, please download the Topline Results
To view the summary charts for this survey, please download the Charts
To view the press releases for the other countries surveyed, please download the pdf's below:
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