Transatlantic Trends 2013, a survey of public opinion conducted in 11 European countries, United States and Turkey has found that almost all respondents of the study overestimated the size of the immigrant population.

In the UK, people estimated that on average 31% of the population are immigrants (the actual figure being 12%). Policy Director at the Migrants’ Rights Network, Ruth Grove-White has stated that it is unsurprising that British respondents have greatly overestimated the population of migrants living in the country “given the volume of hostile public debate about immigration and its impacts”. The Migration Observatory has published a study which reviewed the way British newspapers have portrayed migrants, asylum seekers and refugees between 2010 and 2012 and concluded that the world “illegal” was the most commonly used to describe immigrants.

Europeans were split when asked whether immigration is more of a problem (44% of European respondents) or an opportunity for their country (41% of European respondents). Sweden and Germany are the countries where people are most likely to see immigration as an opportunity and both countries are amongst the OECD countries with the most open immigration policies, the report states.

A majority in Europe (62%) did not agree with the statement that immigrants take jobs away from native born citizens of their country, with 80% of Germans and 77% of Swedes strongly disagreeing with this statement. Most European respondents (60%) agreed immigrants enrich our culture.

The survey is conducted every year and interviews 1,000 people in each country.

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This article originally appeared in ECRE Weekly Bulletin 27 September 2013.

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