Monday

21st Aug 2017

EU citizens overestimate immigrant numbers, survey shows

EU citizens tend to overestimate the number of immigrants and the unemployment rate in their country, a survey has shown.

Ipsos Mori asked 11,527 people from 14 countries via the internet to estimate nine features of their society.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Migrant woman in Athens: Respondents tended to overestimate the number of foreigners in their country (Photo: Zalmai)

The survey, published on Wednesday (29 October) was conducted in nine EU countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom), Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United States of America.

The result shows the respondents believed that there were far more immigrants in their country than is actually the case.

While 10.8 percent of the population in the surveyed countries was born abroad, the respondents reckoned it was 24 percent.

Italians think 30 percent of their population are immigrants (it is 7%), while Belgians believe 29 percent of those living in their country were born abroad (it is10%).

The surveyed also showed that people overestimate the proportion of Muslims in their country. On average, they think that 16 percent of their compatriots are Muslim, while only 3 percent in the researched countries are.

French respondents estimated that 31 of every 100 people living in France are Muslim, when actually only eight in 100 are. Britons think the proportion is 21 in 100, (but it is five per 100).

The respondents – who were aged between 16 and 64 – also overestimated the proportion of their population which is older than 65, and the unemployment rate in their country.

Of the 14 nationalities, Italians are wrong about these issues most often. They estimate that 48 in every 100 Italians is 65 or over, but only 21 in 100 are.

Italians also think the unemployment rate is 49 percent when the official rate is 12 percent.

And if the respondents are to be believed, teenage pregnancy is much more widespread than it actually is.

In Britain, 16 percent of teenage girls (15- to 19-year-olds) are thought to have a baby annually – in fact the figure is 3 percent. In Germany, people overestimate annual teen pregnancy by a factor of 35. (14%, when the figure is 0.4%)

Scientific experiments have shown that people have difficulty excluding their prejudices when asked to estimate the percentage of a feature in a population. They tend to overestimate the size of an issue which is present in their recent memory.

“People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory – and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media”, economist Daniel Kahneman writes in Thinking, Fast and Slow.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetites for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

Brexit realities dawn in UK

Just over a year after a small majority voted for Britain to leave the EU, new realities are dawning on both the in and the out camps.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetites for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference