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Worldwide, 54% See Communities as Good for Migrants
World

Worldwide, 54% See Communities as Good for Migrants

by Julie Ray, Anita Pugliese and Neli Esipova
Worldwide, 54% See Communities as Good for Migrants

Story Highlights

  • 54% worldwide say their communities are good for migrants
  • This belief ranges from 90% in Canada to 17% in Hungary
  • People in the European Union are the most divided

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Is the world a better place for migrants to live than it was at the start of the decade? With the recent backlash against migrants in Europe and in other countries, including the United States, you wouldn't expect people to think so -- but a majority of the world sees it that way today.

More than half of adults (54%) across 143 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2018 said their cities or communities are good places for immigrants to live. This is up from 47% who said the same in 2010.

The overall "good place" number is higher in 2018 largely thanks to substantial increases in South Asia (almost entirely attributable to rising numbers in India), Southeast Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. In nearly all other regions, including Western Europe and Northern America, attitudes in 2018 were very similar to what they were in 2010.

Majority Worldwide Sees Community as Good for Migrants
Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for immigrants from other countries? (% Good place)
2010 2018 Difference
% % pct. pts.
Worldwide 47 54 +7
South Asia 33 53 +20
Middle East and North Africa 40 49 +9
Southeast Asia 32 40 +8
Post-Soviet Eurasia 44 49 +5
East Asia 41 45 +4
Western Europe 73 73 0
Sub-Saharan Africa 64 63 -1
Latin America and the Caribbean 64 63 -1
Northern America 80 79 -1
East Central and Southeast Europe 48 41 -7
Gallup World Poll

East Central and Southeast Europe -- which includes many of the countries on the front lines of the recent European migrant crisis -- was the only region where there was a decline. The percentage of people saying their communities were good places for immigrants to live dropped from 48% in 2010 to 41% in 2018.

But more importantly, on the other side of the migrant crisis that peaked in 2015, the balance of opinion in the region has shifted toward more saying their communities are not good places for migrants to live (46%) than saying they are good places. Before the crisis, people in the region firmly said their communities were good places for migrants (48%) rather than not (34%).

Attitudes Toward Migrants Shift in East Central and Southeast Europe
Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for immigrants from other countries?
Good place Not a good place Don't know/Refused
% % %
2010 48 34 18
2018 41 46 12
Gallup World Poll

Some Countries See Themselves as Good Places for Migrants

While a majority of adults worldwide see their communities as good places for migrants to live, people's attitudes vary widely from country to country, ranging from a high of 90% in Canada to a low of 17% in Hungary.

The countries or areas at the top of the list -- where at least four in five residents say their communities are good locales for migrants -- tend to be wealthier nations, and notably, many of them are historically top-receiving countries for migrants.

Countries Most Likely to See Communities as Good for Migrants
Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for immigrants from other countries?
Good place Difference from 2010
% pct. pts.
Canada 90% +2
New Zealand 89% +1
Norway 88% N/A
Australia 87% 0
Portugal 87% +17
United Arab Emirates 87% +15
Denmark 84% +7
Ireland 84% +2
Luxembourg 83% -1
Mauritius 82% N/A
Gambia 81% N/A
Spain 81% -1
Taiwan 81% +10
Sweden 80% +3
N/A: No estimate available for 2010
Gallup World Poll, 2018

Attitudes in most of these countries or areas haven't changed much since the beginning of this decade, and if they have, it has been for the positive. Portugal, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan have all seen double-digit increases in the percentage who say their communities are good for migrants.

Narrowly missing the top cut are a host of other top-receiving countries, including the United Kingdom (79%), the United States (78%), Saudi Arabia (78%) and the Netherlands (78%). Although migration continues to be a hot political topic in all of them, the U.K. is the only country in this group where attitudes changed significantly between 2010 and 2018, rising from 71% saying that their communities are good for migrants to the current number (79%).

And Some Countries Do Not See Themselves as Good for Migrants

The countries where adults are least likely to see their communities as good places for migrants to live -- where one in three or fewer say this is the case -- tend to be clustered in South Central and Southeast Europe. Not surprisingly, most of these countries have also scored poorly in the past on Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index, which gauges how accepting populations are of migrants.

Countries Least Likely to See Communities as Good Places for Migrants
Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for immigrants from other countries?
Good place Difference from 2010
% pct. pts.
Poland 33 -9
Indonesia 32 +6
Israel 32 -3
Belarus 31 -18
Romania 30 -16
Czech Republic 28 -14
Estonia 28 N/A
Croatia 27 -20
Mongolia 27 -11
Latvia 26 N/A
Turkmenistan 26 N/A
Bulgaria 24 -18
Malaysia 24 +3
Cambodia 20 -13
Hungary 17 -36
N/A: No estimate available for 2010
Gallup World Poll, 2018

Hungarians are the least likely in the world to say that their communities are good places for migrants -- just 17% say this is true. Moreover, Hungarians' attitudes have shifted more than any other country in the world. Thirty-six percentage points separate their attitudes in 2010 (Prime Minister Viktor Orban's first year in office) and 2018, the year that Hungary withdrew from the U.N.'s Global Compact for Migration.

But Member States of the EU Are the Most Divided

The European Union is the most divided region of the world on Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index, and residents there are similarly divided on whether their communities are good places for migrants to live. The percentages saying their communities are good places for migrants range from a low of 17% in Hungary to a high of 87% in Portugal.

EU Divided on Whether Communities Are Good Places for Migrants
Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for immigrants from other countries?
Good place Difference from 2010
% pct. pts.
Portugal 87 +17
Denmark 84 +7
Ireland 84 +2
Luxembourg 83 -1
Spain 81 -1
Sweden 80 +3
Finland 79 +16
United Kingdom 79 +8
Netherlands 78 -4
Germany 75 0
Malta 69 +10
Belgium 68 0
Austria 67 +12
Cyprus 66 +3
France 66 -8
Italy 64 +7
Greece 47 -13
Slovenia 41 -12
Lithuania 37 +1
Slovakia 35 -12
Poland 33 -9
Romania 30 -16
Czech Republic 28 -14
Estonia 28 N/A
Croatia 27 -20
Latvia 26 N/A
Bulgaria 24 -18
Hungary 17 -36
N/A: No estimate available for 2010
Gallup World Poll, 2018

The divides between EU countries in East Central and Southeast Europe and those in Western Europe further illustrate the chasm in public attitudes that has only grown wider in the aftermath of the migrant crisis in Europe.

Since 2010, attitudes have become more open to migrants in a number of countries, including Portugal, where labor shortages and an aging population are forcing the government to open the country's doors to new and return migrants. But the former Soviet bloc countries and Greece -- which have never been pro-migrant -- have only pulled farther away.

Implications

While the Migrant Acceptance Index investigates people's personal feelings about migrants, Gallup's question about whether people think their communities are good places for immigrants provides insight into how people around the world see migrants fitting into their communities. Both provide additional insight into how the world views migrants, but they also complement each other.

The results on this latter question show that even as the world has become more polarized on the issue of migration, people in most regions are at least as likely -- if not more likely -- to see their communities as good for migrants. At the same time, they also highlight the greater divides emerging in some countries, and the challenges this poses for cohesive migrant policies.

The next articles in this series will look at whether these attitudes differ between the native-born and migrant populations around the world, and then whether those attitudes influence people's desire to migrate to other countries.

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

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