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Understanding Attitudes Towards Migrants: A Broader Perspective


  • Marieke Kleemans

    () (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley)

  • Jeni Klugman

    () (Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme)


Migration is a controversial issue. Reading of the popular media in virtually any country, alongside an array of opinion polls suggest that residents see controls on immigration as essential and that people would prefer to see existing rules on entry tightened rather than relaxed. This stands in contrast to the evidence which points to significant gains for movers and, in many cases, benefits also for destination and origin countries – as reviewed in the forthcoming Human Development Report 2009. This paper makes several important contributions to an already rich literature about public opinion and migration. It highlights that attitudes are not as monochrome as might initially appear. A more detailed analysis of the nature, patterns and correlates of opinions toward migration in both developed and developing countries shows that values favourable toward diversity are in fact widely held, albeit with important variations. We also cast important light on how policies toward migration and underlying structural characteristics affect attitudes. Moreover, as many migrants do not end up in developed or OECD countries, public opinions in developing countries are of interest. As far as we are aware, this paper is the first published attempt to explore attitudes in countries in all parts of the human development spectrum. While the data investigated is largely drawn from 2005/2006, we frame key questions in both a longer term perspective, and highlight attitudes towards migrants when jobs are scarce, which has heightened relevance during periods of recession.

Suggested Citation

  • Marieke Kleemans & Jeni Klugman, 2009. "Understanding Attitudes Towards Migrants: A Broader Perspective," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-53, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Oct 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2009-53

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Immigration; human development; public opinion;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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