World Refugee Day 2021: a mixed picture

Our new global survey shows that there is strong support for the principle of people seeking refuge from war and persecution but in practice few are open to accepting more refugees into their country

A new Ipsos global study, carried out to mark World Refugee Day 2021, paints a mixed picture of attitudes towards refugees. While there is majority support on average across the countries surveyed for the right to seek refuge from war or persecution in principle, in practice people are reluctant to accept more refugees into their country. There is also widespread scepticism over whether those seeking refuge are genuine. Across 28 countries surveyed, in no country is there a majority in favour of increasing the number of refugees allowed into their country following the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak, and there is little support for greater government spending on refugees around the world.

The survey, which was conducted online with over 19,000 adults aged under 74 in 28 countries, shows that:
There is strong support for people to have the right to seek refuge from war and persecution in other countries, including in their own country

  • The majority of people in all countries surveyed and 70% of people on average across the 28 countries agree with the principle of seeking refuge from war and persecution. Agreement is highest in Argentina (79%) and Italy (79%), and lowest in South Korea (51%). South Korea is the only country in which fewer than 60% of people agree with this principle.

People are divided as to whether their country should accept refugees at this time

  • On average, half of respondents across the countries surveyed (50%) agree that their country should close its border to refugees entirely, while four in ten (43%) disagree. Respondents in Malaysia (82%), Turkey (75%) and India (69%) are most likely to support closing borders to refugees, while those in Poland (34%), Japan (38%), the United States (41%) and Argentina (41%) are the least supportive of a closed border policy.
  • Views are also split on whether countries should be more or less open to accepting refugees than before the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak or whether things should stay the same. On average across the 28 countries, just one in seven (14%) think countries should be more open to accepting more refugees and a third (33%) think they should stay the same as they were before the pandemic. On the other hand, 42% of people want their country to be less open to accepting refugees than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • People in India, Poland and Saudi Arabia are most likely to say that their country should be more open to accepting refugees. In contrast, people in Turkey, Malaysia and Colombia are least open to accepting refugees.

People are reluctant to see their governments increase spending to support refugees around the world

  • When asked directly about the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, across the 28 countries over a third on average (37%) say their government should decrease the amount it spends on support for refugees around the world due to the pandemic. A similar proportion (36%) think their country should keep spending the same as before the outbreak. Just one in seven (14%) think their country should increase the amount it spends on refugees around the world.
  • People in India (27%) and Saudi Arabia (20%) are most likely to support increased spending by their governments, whereas people in Turkey (60%) and Colombia (54%) are most likely to say that spending should be decreased.

There is widespread scepticism about whether refugees coming to their country are genuine and people are divided as to whether refugees will successfully integrate into their society

  • Six in 10 people (62%) on average across the countries surveyed think that most foreigners entering their country as refugees are not genuine refugees and are coming to their country for economic reasons or to take advantage of welfare services. Around a half or more in every country agree that this is the case. Scepticism about the motives of people seeking refuge is highest in Turkey (81%), Malaysia (76%) and Russia (75%) and lowest in the United States (49%).
  • Close to half on average across the 28 countries (47%) agree that refugees will integrate successfully into their new societies, while 44% disagree.
  • People in Saudi Arabia (76%), India (68%) and Argentina (60%) are the most positive about refugee integration, while respondents in South Korea (29%), France (25%) and Japan (23%) are the least likely to agree that refugees will integrate successfully.


Technical Note
These are the results of a 28-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,510 adults, aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and age 16-74 in 23 other markets between Friday, May 21st and Friday, June 4th, 2021.
The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States, and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey.
The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the US can be taken as representative of their general adult populations under the age of 75.
The samples in Brazil, mainland China, Chile, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.
The data is weighted so that each country’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.
The “Global Country Average” reflects the average result for all the countries and markets where the survey was conducted. It has not been adjusted to the population size of each country or market and is not intended to suggest a total result.
Where results do not sum to 100 or the “difference” appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” or not stated responses.
The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.
The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.