Gender and attitudes towards immigration

There’s a huge Ipsos Reid survey (2011) on the attitudes towards immigration of almost 18,000 people in 23 countries. Though the variation between countries in how they feel about immigration is large, the difference between the attitudes of men and women is very small, with women tending to have slightly less positive perceptions.

First, here’s an image that gives a sense of the variability between countries:

The following two tables represent the global average in attitudes towards immigration (in the second table, the percentages represent agreement with the statement):

Women are slightly less likely to think immigration has had a positive impact, slightly more likely to think it’s had a negative impact, and slightly more likely to say there are too many immigrants.

The pattern varies by nation. Let’s compare 4 western nations: U.S., Australia, Sweden & Belgium. First their general impressions on immigration:

In the U.S. and Australia, men have a more ‘very/fairly positive’ view of immigration than do women by a large margin. In Australia that represents women having a more negative view than men, but in the U.S. it represents a larger chunk of women being neutral. In Belgium, almost no-one has a positive view, but there women are even less positive and more negative then men. In Sweden, men are more neutral than women, who are over-represented in both positive & negative feelings (but moreso negative).

Then we have their answers to a series of questions. In the U.S., despite men seeming to have more positive feelings about immigration, they tend to answer the questions in ways which would suggest more antipathy. In all three of the other nations, women expressed less immigrant-friendly views in line with previously expressed more negative assessment of the impact of immigration (most drastic: 53% of Swedish women think there are too many immigrants vs. 39% of men). The percentage, again, represents those who agreed with the statement either ‘strongly’ or ‘tend to agree’:

In any case, in general there is not too much difference between genders in attitudes towards immigration. The apparently slightly more favourable feelings of one gender in one country may be reversed in another.

There do appear to some differences in specifics though: women are less inclined to give preference to more skilled immigrants (7% less globally), and are less likely to believe immigration helps the economy (6% less globally). Another study (pdf) of European nations found a similar trend of women being less supportive of immigration from wealthy countries and more supportive of immigration from poorer countries. However the researchers note that the differences were only “flirting” with significance. The differences, such as there are, are in line with previous studies that suggest women are more protectionist.

Other studies I have seen suggest similar variability in support. One study in Canada found more support among men than women (pdf) for immigration – 63.3% to 53.7%. In the U.S., while the above study finds women less hostile towards immigration, a 2003 Gallup poll found greater skepticism among women.

2 thoughts on “Gender and attitudes towards immigration

  1. Pingback: More on Women in Public Life « Johann Happolati

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