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The world is divided on immigration - WIN/Gallup International’s Global Poll
The world is divided on immigration - WIN/Gallup International’s Global Poll

The world is divided on immigration - WIN/Gallup International’s Global Poll


Issued by Stone Soup PR on behalf of WIN/Gallup International - Mar 4th 2016, 11:23

Over half (57%) of the world think that immigration of foreign workers is a good thing for their country and 32% believe it is a bad thing, according to WIN/Gallup International’s Global Poll on immigration. 

The global net support score is 25% and this is calculated by the percentage of people that believe it is a good thing minus the percentage of people that believe it is a bad thing.

However, when you divide this citizens’ perspective up between countries, many more countries overall are opposed to immigration and fewer are in support. The poll shows that of the 69 countries included, popular opinion in 42 countries is opposed to immigration, while it is favourable in 27 countries.

“On the whole attitudes on immigration are favourable in sub-Saharan Africa. The only exception is South Africa, where attitudes are net unfavourable (-24%; with 32% favourable, and 56% unfavourable). Otherwise, Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, Ethiopia in East Africa and DR Congo in Central Africa all show results wherein favourable attitudes outnumber the unfavourable,” says Graeme Pitt, MD FGI Africa.

Immigration is a currently a pertinent issue worldwide and WIN/Gallup International, the world’s leading association in market research and polling, gathered perceptions of 69 countries across the globe in its end-of-year survey, as measured by its country partner members. Freshly Ground Insights (FGI) conducted the South African survey asking a representative sample, “Generally speaking do you think the immigration of foreign workers is a good thing or a bad thing for your country?”

Globalisation and the possibilities of travel and relocation divide the world into three groups of countries: the Poor countries where the majority supports immigration, the Middle and Upper Income countries where the majority is in opposition to immigration and the Rich whose majorities are divided between supporting and opposing nations.

Among the 18 Poor countries measured, where the average per capita annual income is less than 10 000 USD, the majority is opposed in only three countries. Among the Middle and Upper Income countries, that have an average annual per capita income of between 10 000 USD and 35 000 USD, the views held by the majorities are exactly the opposite: only three are in favour while 31 are opposed. Interestingly in the Rich countries with incomes above 35 000 USD, the majorities are divided: In the 17 countries polled, nine were in favour of, and eight were opposed to immigration.

Jean-Marc Leger, President of WIN/Gallup International said, “Our poll findings suggest that in a rapidly globalising world immigration will continue to remain a subject of controversy, debate and split opinions for a long time to come. It is a complex issue, which triggers emotional chords blending economic, social, and political considerations. As global pollsters we will continue to monitor and track popular opinions on the subject objectively and comprehensively across all parts of the world.”

There are important differences in attitudes towards immigration across age and income groups. The youth, under age 35 are globally more favourable than the older population towards immigration, the net support among them is +30%, compared to over age 55, among whom the net support drops to +15%. Among the bottom income quintile, the net support globally is only +2%, but among the top quintile it is +53%. Thus, globally, as well as within regions, the poor are more opposed to immigration than the rich in the same societies are.

Among the various regions of the world analysed in the poll, opposition to immigration is the highest in the 21 countries of the European Union. There is a strong wave of anti-immigration sentiment in the whole of Europe but it is more prominent in EU Europe compared to non-EU Europe.

Within EU, the anti-immigration wave is the strongest in the Eastern part of EU, followed by the South and the North Western area. In the Nordic countries, the attitude towards immigration is relatively positive. In the North Western Sub-Region, there is a marked difference amongst attitudes in Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom; all three are strongly hostile to immigration. On the other hand, Germans are somewhat positive.

It comes as a surprise that attitudes towards immigration are favourable in Canada and USA, both of whom receive migrant workers. On the other hand, attitudes are unfavourable in five of the seven countries polled in Latin America, even though Latin America is seen as a labour exporting rather than a labour importing area. Except for Mexico and Peru attitudes in all other Latin American countries are unfavourable these include Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, and Panama.

In Mena and Southwest Asia, overall attitudes towards immigration are favourable. However, there is wide variation within these regions. Attitudes in both MENA and West Asia are unfavourable; the attitude is only favourable in South Asia. Furthermore, it comes as a surprise that Saudi Arabia, which is a labour importing country, is strongly favourable on immigration. On the contrary, several countries, which export labour, are net unfavourable, such as Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. The only exception among labour exporting countries is Morocco where attitudes are favourable. It is not surprising that attitudes in Turkey, which is currently faced with over 2 million-refugee influx from Syria, are unfavourable.

In all of three large South Asian nations, attitudes on immigration are favourable in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as all three are labour exporting nations. In East Asia and Oceana at first sight, the findings show that attitudes on immigration are very favourable. However, the findings for the region as a whole only conceal an underlying variety among various countries. China is highly favourable, so are Vietnam, Philippines, and surprisingly Japan. Attitudes are also favourable among the thinly populated Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Attitudes in all others are negative: Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and South Korea. Even though Mongolia is very thinly populated, attitudes towards immigration are highly unfavourable.

As the South African representative member of WIN/Gallup, FGI works with other country members thus gaining access to these global market research partners and international insights. This global collaboration resulted in the WIN/Gallup International publishing its 39th Annual Survey ‘The world is divided on immigration’ which explores the outlook, expectations, views and beliefs of 68 595 people from 69 countries across the globe.

For more information, contact FGI: (011) 024 3960,, or visit  

Read more about: win/gallup | south africa | immigration | fgi |

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