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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

The latest Transatlantic Trends survey of attitudes towards immigration in America and Europe finds that 47% of Europeans and 50% of Americans think immigration is more of a problem than an opportunity.

But young Europeans (aged 18-34) are much more positive about immigration than older ones. In both the US and Europe, the better educated people are, the more positive towards immigration they are. While 52% of Europeans and 55% of Americans who have not completed secondary school think immigration is more of a problem, only a third of Europeans with a university degree think so. Among those with a post-graduate degree, the figure is 28% for Europeans and 27% for Americans.

People who actually have contact with immigrants are also much more favourable towards immigration. Whereas 54% of Europeans and 61% of Americans without immigrant friends or colleagues said that
immigration is more of a problem, only 42% of Europeans and 43% of Americans with at least a few personal or professional immigrant contacts said likewise.

There was also a strong left-right divide, with Democrats, independents and Europeans who identify as being on the left or centre much more positive about immigration than Republicans and right-wing Europeans.

While the overall picture is not particularly cheery, the fact that those who are younger, better educated and have contact with immigrants are more positive is a good sign. Generational change, improvements in education and contact with real people can make a difference.

Posted 23 Nov 2008 in Blog, Europe, Immigration, United States

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