Is Immigration Bad for the Economy? Many People Say Yes

Significant numbers of Americans and Europeans surveyed by a Financial Times/Harris Poll say immigration reduces the quality of life in their countries.Immigration can be a sore subject in a down economy. According to the results of a Financial Times/Harris Poll released Friday, many people in the U.S. and in five of the largest nations in Europe believe that immigration has a negative impact on the economy, jobs and public services.

The online poll conducted by Harris Interactive in the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Germany asked people's views about the effects of immigration in general -- not illegal immigration. The responses were mostly hostile, blaming immigration for a reduction in jobs, as well as for worsening health care and education systems in the six countries.

Immigrants Blamed for Lower Quality of Life

For example, more than 40% of those surveyed in each of the six countries felt that the current level of immigration made their country a worse place to live, led by 64% Britain, 60% in Spain, 57% in Italy, 49% in the U.S., 44% in Germany and 43% in France.

When asked whether it was easier, harder or the same to find a new job because of immigration, 67% of those in Spain said it was harder to find a job, followed by 60% in Italy, 57% in the U.S., 57% in Britain, 46% in Germany and 45% in France. The majority of those polled in the U.S., Britain, France and Spain -- and more than 40% of those in Italy and Germany -- said immigration reduced their level of health-care services, and the majority of respondents in the U.S., Britain and Germany felt immigration damaged their public-education systems.

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Overall, 52% of those surveyed in Britain, 51% in Spain, 48% in France, 43% in the U.S., 42% in Italy and 32% in Germany believe immigration has a negative effect on their economy. That's an eyebrow-raising amount of negative sentiment considering that the poll didn't even mention illegal immigration.

"This survey underlines the political problems that confront governments and politicians when they are addressing issues of immigration, and the easy opportunities for populist leaders to win votes by advocating anti-immigration policies," according to a Harris Interactive press release about the findings.
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