Working Paper

Evidence on Attitudes to Asylum and Immigration: What We Know, Don't Know and Need to Know

Published 1 January 2005 / By Heaven Crawley

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Whilst many recent surveys and opinion polls provide a description of negative public attitudes towards asylum and immigration issues in the UK , they provide limited evidence on the factors that underlie differences in attitude at the local level and, in particular, over time and/or in relation to particular national or international events. This paper provides an overview of existing evidence on the factors affecting attitudes to asylum and immigration. This evidence suggests that attitudes are influenced by labour market position and income, educational background, individual demographic characteristics including age, gender and race / ethnicity, contact with ethnic minorities groups, knowledge of asylum and migration issues and the context in which attitudes are formed, including dominant political and media discourses. The paper outlines the information that is currently collected through existing social surveys in the UK and elsewhere and concludes that these do not adequately capture the factors influencing attitudes to asylum and immigration or the relationship between them. It sets out the key issues on which questions need to be asked in future social surveys to better inform understanding of attitudes in this area, and concludes with recommendations for further qualitative work that might be taken forward by those with an interest in this complex but increasingly important area of policy research.


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