Understanding Attitudes Towards Migrants A Broader Perspective
Migration is a controversial issue. Reading of the popular media in virtually any country, alongside an array of opinion polls suggest that residents see controls on immigration as essential and that people would prefer to see existing rules on entry tightened rather than relaxed. This stands in contrast to the evidence which points to significant gains for movers and, in many cases, benefits also for destination and origin countries – as reviewed in the forthcoming Human Development Report 2009. This paper makes several important contributions to an already rich literature about public opinion and migration. It highlights that attitudes are not as monochrome as might initially appear. A more detailed analysis of the nature, patterns and correlates of opinions toward migration in both developed and developing countries shows that values favourable toward diversity are in fact widely held, albeit with important variations. We also cast important light on how policies toward migration and underlying structural characteristics affect attitudes. Moreover, as many migrants do not end up in developed or OECD countries, public opinions in developing countries are of interest. As far as we are aware, this paper is the first published attempt to explore attitudes in countries in all parts of the human development spectrum. While the data investigated is largely drawn from 2005/2006, we frame key questions in both a longer term perspective, and highlight attitudes towards migrants when jobs are scarce, which has heightened relevance during periods of recession.