Monday, April 30, 2018

Breitbart Fail

Stockholm street food, via.

Well, wait a minute. In what context? Failed how? What do they want to do about it??

I thought I'd go straight to the report of this survey (28,000 respondents from all 28 EU countries, held October 2017), just issued by the European Commission, instead of giving Breitbart a click, and quickly started seeing a story in which that's not the headline.

For example, the first thing you notice is that the number of people who are worried about it is in steep decline: those who list immigration as the most important issue facing the EU are down to 39% from a peak of 58% in fall 2015. That's higher than it would be if people were adequately informed, but they aren't in their own view—

Less than four in ten (37%) of those polled say that they are well informed about immigration and integration related matters, with a third (33%) saying they are fairly well informed, and only 4% saying they are very well informed.
and their answers to factual questions, such as the question of how many undocumented vs. documented migrants there are in their countries, or how many of them there are altogether, bear that out:
39% of respondents say that the proportion of legally staying immigrants in their country is higher than the proportion of illegally staying immigrants, while 47% say that there are at least as many illegally staying immigrants as there are legally staying immigrants. However, both in the EU as a whole and in most countries individually, there are many more legally than illegally staying third-country nationals.... 
In all countries except Croatia and Estonia, respondents overestimate the proportion of immigrants living in their country. There are significant differences in the extent to which this figure is overestimated. In 19 Member States, the estimated proportion of the population who are immigrants is at least twice the size of the actual proportion of immigrants. In some countries, the ratio of the overestimation is much higher. 
That is, if they realized how small the issue is, they'd worry about it still less.

When it comes to the knowledge that laypeople do have, from real-life experience, the Europeans have a much stronger positive sense:
Over half of Europeans feel comfortable with immigrants, and around six in ten of respondents interact with them on a weekly basis. 
Over half (57%) of respondents say they feel comfortable with having social relations with immigrants in any of the situations explored in the survey (as friends, neighbours, work colleagues, doctors, managers or family members).
In Spain (83%), Sweden (83%), Ireland (80%), the Netherlands and Portugal (both 79%) around eight in ten respondents feel totally or somewhat comfortable having social relations of any of the types explored in this study with immigrants, while in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Hungary only a small minority of respondents are totally comfortable.
Respondents are more likely to interact with immigrants on a daily basis in their neighbourhoods (23%) or in their workplace (20%). In the remaining situations (using public services, childcare centres, during sport, volunteering or cultural activities and household services), such contact occurs less often.
 In Hungary (61%), Romania (69%), Lithuania (69%) and Bulgaria (70%) a significant majority of respondents report little or no contact with immigrants in their neighbourhood. These countries, along with others in Central and Eastern Europe, generally have low levels of contact with immigrants in any circumstances. 
There is a clear relationship between the proportion of immigrants in a given country and the likelihood of interacting with immigrants on a daily basis. For example, in Bulgaria (1%), Romania (4%), Hungary and Lithuania (both 7%) less than one in ten respondents interact with immigrants daily in at least one context, and indeed in each of these countries immigrants represent no more than 2% of the population (except for Lithuania where they represent 3,8%).
Younger respondents and those with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to report higher levels of contact with immigrants on at least a weekly basis. 
And the same goes for the different views by country: places less friendly to immigration are those with fewer immigrants, less urbanized, with less adequate education systems, and of course fewer good employment opportunities (which in turn artificially ages their populations as younger people from Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary migrate temporarily westward to where the better jobs are).

Nevertheless, the results reported by Breitbart on whether the integration of migrants has "succeeded" or not are, to some extent, real, with a couple of caveats. First, that "not successful" isn't exactly the same as "failed".

Then, the question whether integration has succeeded "in our country" is still at a level of abstraction removed from everyday experience. The results for "in the city or area where you live" where 47% say it has been successful to 36% who say it has not, are clearly more indicative of what the respondents know, as opposed to what they suppose.

It seems as if many Swedes are saying, "Well, we're handling it very well, but over in Bothnia they're making a total mess," and similarly for Greece and even more so for the Netherlands.

And second, that the majority for "unsuccessful in our country" is not at all overwhelming for the EU overall—it's exactly 50%, though there are a lot of "don't knows".

Still, what does it mean? The question whether immigrants have a positive impact on society gets a truly overwhelming 76% "yes" from Swedes, the highest of any country in the survey, and 91% of Swedes rejoice that migrants take jobs that are otherwise difficult to fill (only Hungary and Bulgaria are crazed enough to disagree with that one); 93% of Swedes say that migrants enrich the cultural life of the nation. A big majority of Swedes, 58%, deny that migrants are a burden on the welfare system, though an even bigger majority of 61% believe they do worsen the crime problem.

Is that it? Do Swedes think the criminality of migrants is the cause of the unsuccessful integration? Even as they eagerly make friends with migrants, admire their lively cultures, and enjoy the economic benefits of having them around? That makes no sense.

You could, of course, ask people what migrants need to do to contribute to their successful integration, and what are the problems that get in the way, and the EC survey did that, as a matter of fact, though you couldn't expect the Breitbartlets to read that far into the report.

What migrants need to do is pretty obvious, in fact—speak an official language of the host country, pay their taxes, accept the host society's values and norms, have educational qualifications and job skills, and feel like a member of society. With startling distances between the most immigration-positive countries (Sweden and Netherlands, Denmark, and UK, believe it or not—some of the places where there are the worst fascists, like Geert Wilders and Nigel Farage, are among the places that have the biggest majorities favoring migrants) and the most immigration-negative ones (Hungary, Czechia, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Latvia of all places, and tiny Malta, which has some justification for feeling invaded from the sea):

Which raises the question of what are the host country's obligations to the migrants? What can it do to help them feel like a part of society? There are a lot of elements there,  but where the Swedes were especially anxious were first over the issue of discrimination against immigrants (alongside Dutch, Danes, Greeks, and French):

And negative portrayals in the media (with Dutch, Danes, Cypriots, Brits, and Belgians):

And Swedes (with Danes, Cypriots, and Brits, the Dutch falling pretty far behind on this rubric) are especially strong supporters of efforts to combat discrimination.

All around I'm getting the impression that the outlier number reported from Sweden on how unsuccessful integration has been represents, really, the most clear-eyed sense of how far there is to go.

In the meantime, let's recognize what this survey really does suggest: that immigrants, who benefit the host country economically, make terrific friends, and have many wonderful dances and street foods, and do really dirty jobs for not great pay, and pay their share of taxes, are certainly no more a problem than engrained bad attitudes in an increasingly elderly, ill-educated, and querulous minority of the population and the Breitbart and Infowars outlets that egg them on:

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