Attitude toward immigrants in Latvia rather reserved, study shows

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University of Latvia's Institute of Philosophy and Sociology conducted a study on Latvian residents' attitude toward immigrants, the results of which were reported by the researcher Andris Saulītis in an interview to Latvian Radio December 8.

Saulītis said that the study, which surveyed over 5,800 people, revealed that the attitude toward immigrants is rather reserved. 38% of the respondents said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement "I like having people of different nationalities and languages around". 39% agreed or fully agreed (28% and 11% respectively) with the statement, whereas 20% disagreed or completely disagreed (16% and 4% respectively).

A similar proportion was observed in the responses to the statement "Migrants significantly improve the cultural diversity of Latvia" where 31% neither agreed nor disagreed, 44% agreed or fully agreed, and 18% disagreed or completely disagreed.



The vast majority of the respondents (86%) think that immigrants should both retain their culture and adopt the Latvian culture. 5% thought immigrants should fully adopt the Latvian culture and 4% thought they should only retain their culture.



 The study showed that the respondents are more open to immigrants from nearby countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia) and less willing to accept immigrants from farther away (Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia). In response to the question "How many immigrants should Latvia attract from the following countries?", the option "None" was chosen by 23% in regard to Russia, 12% in regard to Belarus, and 16% in regard to Ukraine, but the figures were 43% talking about Syria, 39% Afghanistan, and 51% Somalia.



The survey was conducted by an Internet panel in June 2021, before the migrant crisis on the European Union and Belarus borders, so its results do not include the situation. At the same time, the results of the study indicate the general mood of the public and the possibilities for changing attitudes towards immigration, said Saulītis.

The study was carried out with an experimental survey method, by randomly offering respondents a variety of arguments relating to immigration, emphasizing economic, humanitarian, re-emigration and other considerations in the development of immigration policy and then asking for an opinion on immigration policy.

The researchers concluded that if the reason for immigration is explained by humanitarian rather than economic arguments, then attitudes are more dismissive, because people might feel that an immigrant brings the uncertainty and insecurity that prevails in the country of origin, said Saulītis.

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