Explaining attitudes to immigration in France
Title: Explaining attitudes to immigration in France
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2017/25; Migration Policy Centre
Attitudes to immigration in France, as in most European countries, are highly stable and are in fact becoming slightly more favourable. • France has relatively negative attitudes to immigration when compared with other western European countries. • However, the French see immigration as a relatively unimportant issue affecting their country, considerably less so than other western European electorates. • The recent uptick in perceived importance of immigration in almost all western European countries has been far less pronounced in France. • The French see cultural assimilation as more important when deciding who should be allowed to immigrate than economic self-sufficiency, relative to other western European states. • Attitudes to immigration can be powerfully predicted by fundamental psychological traits, with individuals displaying openness and excitability more drawn towards pro-immigration positions and those displaying conscientiousness and concern over safety more drawn towards anti-immigration positions. • Attitudes to immigration are also powerfully predicted by broader political attitudes, such as left-right self-placement, desire for egalitarianism and desire for a strong government to secure safety. Also, individuals who are more sceptical of the motives of politicians tend to be more opposed to immigration. • Individuals living in more diverse regions and who have more ethnically diverse friends tend to hold more pro-immigration positions. • With the above variables, we can explain around 40 per cent of variation in attitudes to immigration. • Surprisingly, with the above variables taken into account, we find no direct effect of university education, parental education, nationalism, cultural supremacism, interest in politics or having lived abroad on attitudes to immigration. • Attitudes to immigration in France, it seems, are the result of deep-lying psychological differences within the electorate and are unlikely to be easily changed by exposure to new information or political campaigns.
Subject: Immigration; France; Elections; Attitudes; Public opinion
Type of Access: openAccess