Public Opinion and Immigration in Europe: Can Regional Migration Flows Predict Public Attitudes to Immigration?

49 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2023

See all articles by Lenka Dražanová

Lenka Dražanová

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre

Jerome Gonnot

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre

Date Written: March 13, 2023

Abstract

This article investigates how European public opinion has responded to short-term variations in regional foreign-born immigration over the past decade (2010-2019). Combining data from the European Social Survey and the European Union Labour Force Survey, we test how natives’ opinions over migration policy and the contribution of immigrants to society have changed with the net rate of international migrants in 183 EU regions from 21 countries. We find that while European Union natives living in regions with a higher share of foreign-born populations are generally less anti-immigrant, a short-term increase in the number of immigrants within a given region is associated with more negative attitudes in Western Europe only. Moreover, our gender and origin decomposition indicate that male immigrants and those born outside of the European Union are driving most of the negative association between public opinion and changes in the level of immigration in Western European countries, while the educational attainment of migrants makes little difference. The scope of our analysis for Central and Eastern Europe is more limited due to the smaller share of foreign-born immigrants living in those regions. Despite this caveat, our analysis suggests that inflows of European migrants in Central and Eastern Europe are generally associated with more positive views towards immigration, regardless of their skill level. Our findings demonstrate the importance of temporal dynamics for attitudes to immigration. They also point to the need to analyse not only cross-country differences but also regional differences in those attitudes.

Keywords: Attitudes to immigration, migration flows, public opinion, regions

Suggested Citation

Dražanová, Lenka and Gonnot, Jerome, Public Opinion and Immigration in Europe: Can Regional Migration Flows Predict Public Attitudes to Immigration? (March 13, 2023). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSC, 18, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4386789 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4386789

Lenka Dražanová (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre ( email )

Villa Malafrasca
Via Boccaccio 151
Florence, I-50133
Italy

Jerome Gonnot

European University Institute - Migration Policy Centre ( email )

Villa Malafrasca
Via Boccaccio 151
Florence, I-50133
Italy

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