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Many Worldwide See Communities as Good for Immigrants

Many Worldwide See Communities as Good for Immigrants

Residents in Asia least likely to view communities as good places

by Ming-Yi Wu and Julie Ray

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly half of adults worldwide (47%) see their communities as good places for immigrants to live, but this belief varies widely across the 146 countries Gallup surveyed in 2011. Residents of countries in Europe, the Americas, and sub-Saharan Africa tend to view their communities as good locales for immigrants, while residents of countries in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa are more likely to view their communities as bad places.

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At least four in five residents in 16 countries representing nearly every part of the world -- except Asia where residents are the least likely to share this view -- said their communities are good for immigrants. Many of countries in this top group are major receiving countries for immigrants and among the most desired destinations for potential migrants, according to Gallup research. The U.S., where 81% of residents say their areas are good places for immigrants, is attractive to approximately 145 million potential migrants. Canada, Australia, and Spain appeal to at least 25 million adults.

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While not among the most desired destinations for migrants worldwide, several sub-Saharan African countries populate the top of the list. The relatively high percentages who say their communities are good places for immigrants may reflect the high volume of cross-border migration in several countries, rather than whether they see this immigration as a good or bad thing.

Malaysians, Thais Among Least Likely to View Communities as Good for Immigrants

Several countries that receive large numbers of immigrants -- such as Malaysia -- are at the bottom of the list. With fewer than one in five residents saying their communities are good places for immigrants, Malaysians (17%) and Thais (19%) are among the least likely worldwide to share this view.

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These relatively negative views may reflect backlash from local residents about each of their countries' reliance on cheap foreign labor -- and their fears that it is bringing down local wages. But these residents may also be taking their cues from tougher, or at least more complex, government policies that aim to reduce the number of low-skilled foreign workers and irregular migrants. In Thailand, for example, hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants -- largely Burmese refugees -- are facing deportation if they do not register their nationalities with the Thai government.

Bottom Line

North America and Europe are the most desirable destinations for many potential migrants. Residents in many nations in those regions are among the top countries where people believe their cities or areas are good places for immigrants. At the same time, there are some strong differences between immigrants' preferred destinations and the opinions of residents in those countries about whether they are good places for immigrants.

Linda Lyons and Jenny Marlar contributed to this report.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2011 in 146 countries. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from a low of ±1.1 percentage points in United Kingdom to a high of ± 5.1 percentage points in Trinidad and Tobago. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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