Estonia among countries least accepting of migrants, survey shows

Migrants at a refugee center in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Migrants at a refugee center in Sofia, Bulgaria. Source: (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Scanpix)

Estonia ranks among the ten countries ranked least accepting of migrants, it appears from the results of a survey conducted by polling agency Gallup.

Estonia scored 2.37 out of a possible nine points in Gallup's new Migrant Acceptance Index, placing 9th from the bottom overall and one of ten countries that scored a 2.39 or lower.

According to the survey, the country the least accepting of migrants is Macedonia, with a score of 1.47, followed by Montenegro, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Israel, Latvia and the Czech Republic. Estonia, ranked 9th, is followed by Croatia with a score fo 2.39.

Gallup pointed out that many countries on the front lines of the recent migrant crisis in Europe are among the least accepting countries in the world for migrants. Most of them located along the Balkan route that once channeled asylum-seekers from Greece to Germany. Israel, which has dealt with its own influx of asylum-seekers from Africa in the past decade, is the only non-European country that scored below 2.39 points.

Gallup created the Migrant Acceptance Index to gauge people's acceptance of migrants based on increasing degrees of personal proximity. The index is based on three questions that Gallup asked in 138 countries in 2016 and the U.S. in 2017.

Specifically, it asked people whethert they viewed immigrants living in their country, an immigrant becoming their neighbor, and an immigrant marrying one of their close relatives as "a good thing" or "a bad thing," with a volunteered response "it depends" or "don't know" as the third option. The response "a good thing" was worth three points, a volunteered response of "it depends" or "don't know" was worth one point, and "a bad thing" was worth zero points.  

As opposed to the least-accepting countries, which are geographically and culturally clustered, the most-accepting countries for migrants are located in disparate parts of the globe. The top two most-accepting countries could not be geographically further apart — Iceland with a score of 8.26, and New Zealand with a score of 8.25.

A common thread tying many of the most accepting countries together, however, is their long history as receiving countries for migrants. While the highest-receiving country in the world, the U.S., does not make the top 10 countries, it does make the top 20 with a score of 7.27.

Worldwide, adults in certain demographics are solidly more accepting of migrants than others are. For example, acceptance rises with education; those with at least four years of education after high school or with university degrees are the most likely of all education groups to be accepting, with an index score of 5.67.

Those in the highest 20 percent income bracket — who are also more likely to have higher education — also stand out in their acceptance of migrants compared with those in all lower income groups. Residents of urban areas also are more likely to be accepting, as opposed to those living in rural areas, it appears from the outcome of the survey.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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