A Summary of Findings on Perceptions of EU and Non-EU Immigrants’ Welfare Impacts
February 27, 2020
Consequences can be severe for the future of the European Union when large portions of the population of a given Member State perceive immigration as harmful to the welfare state. Work Package 10 has provided an in-depth analysis of the various factors that determine these perceptions. We have showed that most people do not differentiate significantly between EU/non-EU or European/ non-European inflows (Blinder and Markaki 2018a; 2018b; 2019a), or their impacts (Markaki and Blinder 2019b). While identification with the EU helps explain preference for EU mobility over other inflows, subnational (racial and religious) identities are associated with a preference for European migrants over non-Europeans, but not with specific support for intra-EU movement. We also find that citizens’ evaluations of the welfare effects of immigration do not reflect the realities of these impacts on national welfare states as much as expected (Markaki and Blinder 2019a). Perceptions of immigrants as net burdens more closely reflect differences in the demographic size of welfare recipients who are foreign born, rather than differences in their actual welfare costs or contributions in taxes. When analysing individual-level determinants of misperceptions, we found that respondents with higher levels of general political sophistication are more likely to view EU immigrants’ welfare receipts in a positive light (Blinder and Markaki 2019b). However, higher political sophistication appears to work differently for people across the left-right ideological spectrum. Rather than converging towards the most accurate or moderate opinions, those with higher levels of political sophistication exhibit more entrenched views that lean further towards the extreme sides of impact evaluation (very positive/very negative).