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Transatlantic Trends 2013 finds UK attitudes sceptical but stable on immigration

A major survey of public opinion in the UK, United States, Turkey and 10 European countries, released today, finds that while the British public remain sceptical over immigration, they are more positive on questions of migrant integration.


In the first Transatlantic Trends survey since 2011, respondents from across 13 nations were invited to estimate the migrant population of their country. While all countries over-estimated the figure, the disparity was particularly stark in the UK, at more than twice the true figure (31% compared to the actual figure of 12%). The British estimate was higher than that made in countries such as Spain (24%) and Sweden (18%), which have higher migrant populations than the UK.


Attitudes to immigration remain broadly sceptical, with a clear majority regarding migration to the UK as more of a problem than an opportunity, though the findings suggest no overall hardening of attitudes since 2008.


Other key findings of the report:

•On questions of integration, there was broad optimism among British respondents, with around half of those surveyed in the UK (48%) believing that first-generation immigrants are well-integrated into British society, more than in France and Germany.
•A clear majority of British respondents consider that the children of immigrants are integrating well, which continues to compare favourably to countries such as France and Sweden.
•A majority (52%) in the UK believe that immigrants help to create jobs as they set up new businesses. 66% also believe that immigrants help to fill job where there is a shortage of workers.


While respondents in all countries shared some economic concerns, it is notable that British respondents expressed considerably more cultural anxiety than their counterparts in the US and continental Europe. However, although a plurality (46%) believe that immigration presents a cultural threat, a clear majority (63%) agreed that immigrants enrich our national culture.


You can read the full Transatlantic Trends 2013 report here – Section 4 deals with views on immigration and integration.