The purpose of this report is to investigate Swedes’ attitudes toward immigration, focusing on the time period between 2014 and 2016, and the relationship between media use and attitudes toward immigration. Empirically, the analysis builds on a representative panel survey, conducted between 2014 and 2016. The same respondents have been approached at three occasions, as a result, this study enables for the possibility to look at changes in attitudes over time within the group.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • The results show that respondents in general hold positive attitudes toward different forms of immigration and immigration from different parts of the world, although attitudes vary depending on why people immigrate and from where they immigrate. Respondents are most positive toward immigration for the sake of study and work, while the attitudes toward immigration to escape from war and oppression and to unite with family members are slightly less positive
  • In terms of immigration from different parts of the world, respondents are most positive toward immigration from the Nordic countries, Europe beyond the Nordic countries, and North America, and least positive toward immigration from the Middle East and Africa.
  • With respect to the research question about how immigration is perceived to affect Sweden, the results show that most perceive immigration to have positive, rather than negative, effects on Sweden, although a majority also perceive that it happens too often that immigrants have customs and traditions that do not fit into the Swedish society. 
  • A key question in this study is how Swedes’ attitudes toward immigration changed between 2014 and 2016. At the group level, there are however signs of increasing polarization.
  • The results show that there are some correlations both between people’s media use and their attitudes toward immigration, and between people’s media use and changes in their attitudes toward immigration. This might be interpreted as showing that people’s media use has effects on their attitudes toward immigration. 

About the authors

The report, Attitudes Toward Immigration: An Analysis of Changes and Media Effects in Sweden 2014–2016 (2018:4), is written by Jesper Strömbäck, Professor in Journalism and Political Communication, and Nora Theorin, PhD student in Journalism Media and Communication Studies, both at the University of Gothenburg.

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