Posted on December 10, 2018

Many Worldwide Oppose More Migration — Both into and out of Their Countries

Phillip Connor and Jens Manuel Krogstad, Pew Research Center, December 10, 2018


Across the countries surveyed, a median of 45% say fewer or no immigrants should be allowed to move to their country, while 36% say they want about the same number of immigrants. Just 14% say their countries should allow more immigrants. {snip}

In Europe, majorities in Greece (82%), Hungary (72%), Italy (71%) and Germany (58%) say fewer immigrants or no immigrants at all should be allowed to move to their countries. Each of these countries served as some of the most popular transit or destination countries during Europe’s recent surge in asylum seekers. (In several countries, most disapprove of how the European Union has handled the refugee issue.)

People in other countries around the world hold views similar to those in Europe. Large majorities in Israel (73%), Russia (67%), South Africa (65%) and Argentina (61%) say their countries should let in fewer immigrants. In every country surveyed, less than a third say their nation should allow more immigrants to enter.


{snip} More than 2 million migrants have sought asylum in Europe since 2015. In the Americas, thousands of Central American families and children have sought to enter the United States. (Recently, immigration has declined as an issue of public concern in parts of Western Europe, even as it has remained a top issue in U.S.)

Together, the 27 countries surveyed by the Center have more than half of the world’s international migrants. The U.S., with 44.5 million immigrants in 2017, has the largest foreign-born population in the world, followed by Saudi Arabia (12.2 million), Germany (12.2 million) and Russia (11.7 million).

Meanwhile, among the countries surveyed, immigrants make up the largest shares of national populations in Australia (29%), Israel (24%), Canada (22%) and Sweden (18%). About 14% of the U.S. population is foreign born, a share comparable to that of Germany (15%), the UK (13%) and Spain (13%).

Outmigration also widely seen as a problem

At the same time, people in many countries worry about people leaving their home for jobs in other countries. {snip}


In many countries that are home to large foreign-born populations (whether by total number or by share), few say people leaving their country for jobs elsewhere is a big problem. In the U.S., for example, 38% say outmigration for jobs is a big problem. {snip}

{snip} In Russia, Japan, South Korea, Kenya, Poland and Italy, the share saying this has climbed about 15 percentage points or more during this time. {snip}

In fact, since 2002, the only surveyed countries where worries over emigration due to jobs abroad have declined significantly are Germany and Canada. {snip}