Some striking misperceptions in six countries about immigrants (U.S. Germany, France, Italy, U.K. and Sweden):
In five of the six countries, the average native believed that there are between two and three times as many immigrants as there are in reality.
Natives also got the origins of immigrants wrong. They particularly overestimated the shares of immigrants coming from regions that have recently been described as ‘problematic’ in the media. In the US, respondents thought the share of Muslim immigrants was 23% when in reality it is 10%.
In all countries, immigrants were viewed as poorer, less educated, and more likely to be unemployed than is the case. For instance, US natives believed that 35% of immigrants lived below the poverty line, while the real number is less than 14%. Natives also believed that immigrants relied heavily on the welfare state, with roughly one-third of all US, Italian, and French respondents, and one-fifth of all UK and German respondents, believing that an immigrant would receive more benefits than a native, even if both had exactly same income, family structure, age, and occupation.
Respondents in all countries also greatly exaggerated the share of immigrants among the poor or the low-educated. For example, US respondents thought that 37% of the poor were immigrants; the true number is 12%.