Public views on asylum and refugee policies similar across European countries, study finds


On 3 December, the Department of Government is hosting a seminar with Martin Ruhs from the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence.

Martin Ruhs

How to protect asylum seekers and refugees has become one of the most contested and politicized issues in Sweden and many other European countries, yet little is known about public attitudes to asylum and refugee policies. To help address this research gap, Martin and colleagues in the international Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and migration (MEDAM) project  have conducted research with 12,000 respondents across eight European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden). Their findings suggest that Europeans are generally committed to protecting refugees, but they prefer policies that use limits and conditions. The research found similar preferences for protection with limits and conditions in all eight countries surveyed, including in Sweden.

The results in Sweden (1,500 respondents) are very similar to those in most of the other European countries included in the analysis. There is no evidence of widespread support for policies that eliminate protection for asylum seekers and refugees, but Swedes have a preference for asylum and refugee policies that use limits and conditions. For example, with regard to the regulation of family reunification for recognised refugees, Swedes prefer policies that limit family reunification to those refugees who can pay for the living costs of their incoming family members. At the same time, policies that completely abolish family reunification for all recognised refugees are less likely to be supported by the Swedish public than polices that grant family reunification without conditions.     

In this seminar, Martin will expand on the results of this new research and discuss the implications for debates about how to reform asylum and refugee policies in Europe. Swedish discussants will provide comments in the context of ongoing policy debates in Sweden.

“We often hear that Europeans are hopelessly divided when it comes to asylum and refugee policies. In contrast, our new research shows remarkable similarities in policy attitudes across European countries: Europeans want to protect asylum seekers and refugees but they prefer policies that use limits and conditions. Policy makers should take note that people across European countries are more united than divided on this issue.” says Martin Ruhs. 

Date: Tuesday 3 December, 2019
Time: 10.15-12.00
Location: Torgrummet, Gamla Torget 2, Department of Government, Uppsala University

Brief comments and reflections to initiate the discussion around the table will be given by: Anna-Sara Lind, Professor of Public Law, Department of Law, Uppsala University, Kristof Tamas, Head of Secretariat, the Migration Studies Delegation and Henrik Andersson, Post-doctoral researcher, Department of Government, Uppsala University.

What asylum and refugee policies do Europeans want? Evidence from a cross-national conjoint experiment
Authors: Anne-Marie Jeannet, Esther Ademmer, Martin Ruhs and Tobias Stöhr

Find out more about Martin Ruhs

Find out more about the MEDAM project