EU Most Divided in World on Acceptance of Migrants
by Julie Ray, Anita Pugliese and Neli Esipova
Migrant Acceptance Index scores range from 7.92 to 1.69
Biggest divides between Central, Eastern Europe and West
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed last
week on a plan to stem migration across the Mediterranean, the European
Union as a whole still lacks a common migration policy. Finding a policy
that everyone -- particularly the public -- can accept will likely continue
to prove elusive in the near term: No other region of the world is more
divided on Gallup's new Migrant Acceptance Index than the EU, where
scores range from a high of 7.92 in Sweden to a low of 1.69 in Hungary.
Migrant Acceptance Index Scores Vary Across European Union
Maximum possible score on the index is 9.
Gallup World Poll, 2016
Gallup created the
Migrant Acceptance Index to gauge people's acceptance of migrants based on increasing degrees
of personal proximity. The index is based on three questions that Gallup
asked in 139 countries. The questions ask whether people think immigrants
living in their country, becoming their neighbor and marrying into their
families are good things or bad things. The higher the score, the more
accepting the population is of migrants.
With a Migrant Acceptance Index score of 5.92 (out of a possible 9), the
European Union as a whole scores just slightly higher than the global
average (5.29). But within the region, the scores largely follow an East-West
divide. Along with Hungary, other Eastern European countries such as Slovakia,
Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Croatia are among the 10 least-accepting
countries in the world. Sweden and Ireland are the two EU member countries
among the 10 most-accepting countries.
Expanding this list to include the 20 most-accepting and 20 least-accepting
countries, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain join Sweden and Ireland,
and Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania join their counterparts in Central
and Eastern Europe. Top EU countries of destination for migrants, such
as Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy fall lower in the rankings,
but all of them score above the EU average.
The divide between EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe and those
in Western Europe illustrates the chasm that exists in public attitudes
toward migrants within the EU and the struggle it faces to create a cohesive
policy: The index score for EU countries in Western Europe is 6.73, compared
with 2.77 for EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Youngest, Most Educated in EU Most Accepting
Although Migrant Acceptance Index scores vary widely across the European
Union, there are common threads among those who are solidly more accepting
of migrants -- in line with what Gallup finds in most regions of the world.
Acceptance generally rises with education, and those in the highest 20%
income group -- who are also more likely to have higher education -- are
more likely to be accepting of migrants than those in lower income groups.
Migration Acceptance Divides EU
Western European EU
Central/Eastern European EU
Gen Z (1997 and later)
Gen X (1965-1979)
Baby boomers (1946-1964)
Primary education or less
Four-year college degree
Maximum possible score on index is 9.
Gallup World Poll, 2016
Younger generations in the EU are most accepting of migrants, while older
people are the least accepting. Those in the postmillennial generation
are the most accepting of all. Traditionalists -- the oldest generation
-- are the least accepting of all.
Despite the huge gap in index scores between EU countries in Western Europe
and those in Central and Eastern Europe, within these regions, migrant
acceptance tends to be higher among these same demographic groups -- the
youngest generation, those with more education and those with the highest
income. However, scores among even the
most-accepting EU populations in Eastern Europe are about half as high as scores among the
least-accepting EU populations in Western Europe.
If the European Union hopes to make progress toward achieving a common
migration policy, then it will require more unity and cohesion on the
issue among member states -- two items that the data would suggest are
not in abundant supply across the bloc. Finding common ground will be
difficult, not only because of the wide range of views on how to manage
migration flows, but also because of the wide range in public acceptance
of migrants -- and the lack of acceptance in Central and Eastern Europe
John Fleming contributed to this analysis.
These results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately
1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted throughout 2016 in 138 countries
and in 2017 in the U.S. In some countries, such as India, Russia and China,
sample sizes are much larger, between 2,000 and 4,000 adults. For results
based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error
ranges from ±2.1 percentage points to ±5.6 percentage points
at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include
computed design effects for weighting.