MiniChart: Attitudes towards Immigration and leaving the European Union

Posted on Updated on

MiniCharts are simple diagrams I try to produce on issues I find interesting.

After Brexit, I wanted to know whethere there was a correlation between individuals’ attitudes towards immigration and the European Union. Immigration has been a major issue during the campaign, and politicians and academics have simialrly pointed to immigration as explanations for the leave vote – the referendum has allegedly became a proxy for these issues. This is not a post arguing for or against immigration or the European Union per se, but to see how other countries in the European Union compare to the United Kingdom when it comes to their citizen’s desire to leave the European Union and their attitude towards restricting immigration.

The variable on leaving the European Union is also interesting, as the Schengen Agreement allows movement in and out of a country whereas the question on restricting immigration is essentially on other coming into one’s country. For less developed countries, the question is more likely to be (subconsicously) perceived as “freedom of movement” desirable for those who support emigration – for these countries the two questions will be more distinct – a country which is comparatively xenophobic may still prioritise free movement to other countries. Whereas in more developed countries net inward migration is more likely to be positive (and wage convergence driving price levels down for labour) therefore the European Union would be seen as more similar to the other question on “restricting immigration”.There are obviously many other factors at play, such as income (distribution) and nationalism.

The thing is, even if there were a correlation, this is not a simple as condemning them as racists – the ethical and political response still requires a structural examination on whether this is a reactionary but natural response to a broader problem – such as inequality. On this issue of income, it will be interesting to see whether less developed European Union countries have a preference to remain, which would coincide with the theory in my previous post on economic and political (dis)integration – this is also interesting because if this trend does exist, prima facie it contradicts the observation that poorer individuals (in high-income countries such as the United Kingdom) tended to vote for leaving the European Union. This shows how income alone is not the salient factor (i.e. such as statements like “poor people are against the European Union generally“) – it is income for individuals within a polity. These are all potential areas of further enquiry. Nonetheless, I wanted to visualsie the data and see whether there is a simple relationship, which I have copied in below.


The data used is from the National Identity survey of multiple countries by the International Social Survey Programme in 2013. This is the latest data avaiable, the survey is conducted in approx. 10 year cycles. The raw data contains a sample size of over 16,000.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s