Immigration, a matter of (mis)perception

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Numbers in and of themselves are of little use, facts aren’t as strong as bias. When it comes to immigration, perception wins out and perception is often wrong. This is what comes to light from a study on “Immigration and redistribution” presented by Alberto Alesina, Harvard University Professor, at the first meeting in the Economic Scenarios - The Practice of Macro course by Francesco Giavazzi for SDA Bocconi’s MBA.
The study – carried out through surveys on samples of respondents in different countries and of different origin, gender, social level, and political opinion – results in a substantial difference between the real situation and the widespread perception about migration flows and redistributive policies related to them. In Italy, the percentage of “perceived” immigration is 25% compared to the actual 10%, in the USA it’s even higher, 35% compared to the real 10%. Nevertheless, Italy, France, and Germany seem much more worried about immigration than the USA, who, despite Trump’s rhetoric, are more open to immigration compared to Europe.
The study also highlights a particularly “hot” figure regarding public opinion in several countries for this period: the natives’ views about immigrants can be strategically manipulated by anti-immigration and anti-redistribution policies.

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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