Net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with their arrest rates in the UK

Open Quantitative Sociology & Political Science, 2016

Abstract

Public beliefs about immigrants and immigration are widely regarded as erroneous. For example, members of the public typically overestimate the immigrant fraction of the population by ~10–15 percentage points. On the other hand, popular stereotypes about the respective characteristics of different groups (e.g., sexes, races, nationalities) are generally found to be quite accurate. The present study shows that, in the UK, net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with the log of immigrant arrests rates (r = .77; p = 0.00002; 95% CI = [.52, .90]) and with the log of their arrest rates for violent crime (r = .77; p = 0.00001; 95% CI = [.52, .90]). This is particularly noteworthy given that Britons reportedly think that an immigrant’s criminal history should be one of the most important characteristics when considering whether he or she should be allowed into the country. Moreover, the associations are not accounted for by a general opposition to non-Whites, non-Westerners, foreigners who do not speak English, Muslims, or those from countries with low average IQ. While circumstantial in nature, the study’s findings suggest that public beliefs about immigrants are more accurate than is often assumed.

Keywords
Immigrants, attitudes, stereotypes, arrest rates, crime

Reviewed by
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, Heiner Rindermann, L. J. Zigerell

Review time 32 days.