New CReAM research on the factors that shape individual attitudes towards migration policy

November 04, 2009

A new research paper from CReAM (Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at UCL) investigates the factors which determine individual attitudes towards migration policy. The researchers note that immigration affects a country in many ways, from the economic effects on public spending and on the wages of workers competing with immigrants in the job market, to the cultural effects associated with changing the composition of the population. All of these factors currently figure in popular discussion and it is important to understand which has the biggest influence on generating hostility or openness to immigration policy.

The paper - written by CReAM Fellow David Card and CReAM researchers Christian Dustmann and Ian Preston - presents a method for quantifying the relative importance of economic and cultural channels in shaping attitudes towards immigration. The authors use data from 21 countries in the 2002 European Social Survey, which included a specially-designed questionnaire with a large number of questions on attitudes to migration-related issues, including the economic and social impacts of immigration, and the desirability of increasing or reducing immigrant inflows. Their key findings are: These conclusions don't just apply to the sample as a whole, but also country by country. The researchers found that sociocultural questions are more important than economic questions in almost every country. Moreover, their research shows that the relative importance of such issues is greater when respondents are asked about immigrants who are ethnically different, or from poor rather than rich countries.

The researchers conclude: "Immigration changes the habits, culture, and religion of the receiving country's population. These issues play a more important part in shaping views about immigration policy than economic issues."
Notes for editors

Contact details:

For further information please contact Dave Weston in the UCL Press Office on +44 (0) 20 7679 7678 (, or Christian Dustmann on +44 (0) 20 7679 5832 or +44 (0) 7818 048 380.

About the research:

The research was conducted by CReAM Fellow David Card and CReAM researchers Christian Dustmann and Ian Preston The paper is a CReAM Discussion Paper (DP 29/09) and can be viewed in full at:

About CReAM (Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration):

CReAM is an independent and interdisciplinary research centre located in the Department of Economics at University College London. CReAM's research focuses on the causes, patterns and consequences of international population mobility and movements affecting UK, Europe and associated global processes. CReAM aims at informing the public debate on migration in the UK and in Europe by providing new insight, helping to steer the current policy debate in a direction that is based on carefully researched evidence without partisan bias. For further information see:

About UCL (University College London):

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is the fourth-ranked university in the 2008 THES-QS World University Rankings, and the third-ranked UK university in the 2009 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Marie Stopes, Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Woolf, Alexander Graham Bell, and members of the band Coldplay. UCL currently has over 12,000 undergraduate and 8,000 postgraduate students. Its annual income is over £600 million. For further information see:

University College London

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