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

Lenka Dražanová and Jérôme Gonnot

No 2023/18, RSCAS Working Papers from European University Institute

Abstract: This article investigates how European public opinion has responded to short-term variations inregional foreign-born immigration over the past decade (2010-2019). Combining data from theEuropean 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 thenet rate of international migrants in 183 EU regions from 21 countries. We find that while EuropeanUnion natives living in regions with a higher share of foreign-born populations are generally less antiimmigrant,a short-term increase in the number of immigrants within a given region is associated withmore negative attitudes in Western Europe only. Moreover, our gender and origin decompositionindicate that male immigrants and those born outside of the European Union are driving most ofthe negative association between public opinion and changes in the level of immigration in WesternEuropean countries, while the educational attainment of migrants makes little difference. The scopeof our analysis for Central and Eastern Europe is more limited due to the smaller share of foreignbornimmigrants living in those regions. Despite this caveat, our analysis suggests that inflows ofEuropean migrants in Central and Eastern Europe are generally associated with more positiveviews towards immigration, regardless of their skill level. Our findings demonstrate the importanceof temporal dynamics for attitudes to immigration. They also point to the need to analyse not onlycross-country differences but also regional differences in those attitudes.

Keywords: Attitudes to immigration; migration flows; public opinion; regions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eec, nep-eur, nep-int, nep-mig, nep-tra and nep-ure
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