A survey to measure attitudes towards immigrants and social changes over ten years
Estonia starts collecting data for the 2014 European Social Survey, carried out in cooperation with 20 European countries. This time, special focus is on attitudes towards immigrants and people’s health. In Estonia, 4000 people will be invited to participate in the survey. It is already the tenth year the European Social Survey is conducted in Estonia, so researchers can compare the changes in the society over time.
Immigration is a future challenge for many European countries. Estonia, as well, due to its decreasing population, needs to bring in more people to boost the development of the country. “According to the Welcoming Programme recently initiated by the Ministry of the Interior, up to 49,000 new immigrants will arrive in Estonia in the next five years,” said Mare Ainsaar, coordinator of the European Social Survey in Estonia and Senior Research Fellow in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Tartu.
The European Social Survey will analyse the readiness of Estonians to support the adaptation of immigrants in Estonia. “Past studies have shown that although Estonians’ readiness to accept immigrants has slightly increased over the past ten years, compared to other Europeans, Estonians are still rather afraid of people who look different and come from a different background,” said Ainsaar, adding that only half of the Estonian population favours immigration in general. “Similarly, attitudes differ very much from person to person. Younger people with higher education and better income are more tolerant towards immigration.”
The comparison of 20 countries allows assessing the success rate of different national policies. Estonia has participated in the survey for ten years, which allows making comparisons over time. “During this period, life in Estonia as a whole has improved. Interest in politics has neither increased nor decreased, but trust in the European Parliament and satisfaction with the functioning of democracy has increased. People believe that there has also been progress in healthcare and education. People themselves have become somewhat more open."
The European Social Survey is an academically-driven social survey and an infrastructure of social sciences, designed to study the patterns of the development of societies. The data of the European Social Survey (separated from personal data) is freely accessible on www.ess.ut.ee.
The Estonian part of the project is financed by the internationalisation programme of the Ministry of Education and Research.
Additional information: Mare Ainsaar, Coordinator of the European Social Survey in Estonia, Senior Research Fellow in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Tartu, tel: 517 8132, email: mare.ainsaar [ät] ut.ee.