The general attitude of Estonian residents towards migration and refugees has significantly improved

06.12.2016 | 17:01

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Stenbock House, 6 December 2016 – A public opinion survey, which was commissioned by the Government Office and carried out by Kantar Emor, reveals that the overall attitude of Estonian residents towards migration and refugees has significantly improved over the year.

A total of 75% of persons involved in the survey believe that people have the right to travel freely. In June 2015, the same opinion was expressed by 63% of those surveyed. A total of 56% of persons surveyed are in favour of accepting people in need; last year, the same indicator was 43%.

A total of 30% are extremely critical towards refugees; last year, the same figure was almost 40%. “The reasons for softening of attitudes and decrease in criticism is probably due to decline in emotionality with regard to this topic and the fact that the migration crisis is not reflected in the media so often anymore,” Kantar Emor Survey Specialist Aivar Voog explains. “The sharp emergence of this topic last summer created an emotional shock in the residents of Estonia and this, in turn, amplified all kinds of fears.”

The attitudes towards accepting refugees have not changed compared to the previous year. Over 90% of those surveyed consider it essential that refugees should commence work and pay taxes. Furthermore, refugees should accept the Estonian cultural norms, respect local legislation, and master the Estonian language. People also agree that Estonia should not accept people in search of a better life, but only victims of war and persecution. However, the percentage of those people who think that refugees should not receive any subsidies from the state has significantly decreased (from 34% to 26%).

The overall attitude towards refugees and a sense of danger depend on the social background of people. Education is the main socio-demographic factor that determines people’s general attitudes towards refugees. “Highly educated people are more tolerant and feel less threatened by refugees, however, greater risk is perceived by older people, regardless of their nationality,” Voog adds. Non-Estonians are more likely to accept immigration than Estonians, however, the arrival of refugees creates more sense of danger among non-Estonians.

For the first time, the survey asked about the information sources used by the residents of Estonia to obtain information about refugees. Among Estonians, ETV (41%), Postimees (9%), Kanal 2 and Delfi (8) are considered the most reliable channels. Non-Estonians mentioned Russian media channels (24%), ETV and ETV+ (17%) and Delfi (14%) as the most trusted media channels.

The survey was carried out via telephone in November 2016. The survey population was comprised of permanent residents of the Republic of Estonia aged 15+ years and the number of those surveyed was 1,000 people. The survey was commissioned and funded under the framework of project “Migration Communication and Monitoring”, which is co-funded by the European Union through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Estonia.

Survey report:

Government Communication Unit