Research suggests people who want to prevent immigration to the UK are less happy than those who welcome it

People who want to stop further immigration to the UK are less happy than those who welcome it, and politicians are part of the reason for this, new research shows. 

The British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Manchester heard today [Tuesday 4 April] that people who said they would allow “many” immigrants to enter were around 8% happier than those wanted none to enter. 

Dr David Bartram from our School of Media, Communication and Sociology analysed data from the European Social Survey on 5,995 people in the UK to correlate their opinion on immigration with how happy they described themselves on a scale of 0-10.

Those who wanted no more immigrants to enter scored an average of 7.16, and those who would allow ‘many’ scored 7.91.

Dr Bartram found that the effect was strongest among those who were out of work because of sickness or disability, and those who had been unemployed in the past for three months or more. In these groups, those who would allow many immigrants to enter scored 7.07, and those who wanted none to enter scored 6.19.

Dr Bartram told the conference that: “Anti-immigrant discourses, political messages that highlight and bemoan how different immigrants are, contribute to undermining the subjective well-being of the natives themselves.

“We would likely see a significant benefit if politicians stopped talking about immigration and immigrants in the way many of them currently do. The current discourse is damaging to natives, and recognition of this idea could amount to reason for reflection."