Thinking Behind the Numbers: Understanding Public Opinion on Immigration in Britain

Published 1 January 2011 / By COMPAS Communications

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This report aims to build a more detailed understanding of public attitudes in Britain towards immigration. In September 2011, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford commissioned polling firm Ipsos MORI to ask a series of questions about immigration and immigrants to a representative sample of adults living in Britain. Although the poll supported previous findings that a large majority of people in Britain favour cuts in immigration, it also found that the public’s views on immigration are complex and nuanced in a way that previous polls have failed to capture, and that these views vary substantially depending on which immigrant groups the public is considering. This report does not take a position on whether and how immigration policy should respond to public opinion. It is focused instead on providing new data and analysis, suggesting relevance to policy debates but not arguing for specific policies.


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