The percentage of Belgians in favour of a more relaxed government policy on asylum requests has increased, between 2002 and 2016, from 17.9 to 30.4%. They are also more numerous (43.3% instead of 28.2%) to believe that refugees fear persecutions in their country of origin, according to a study from the Sociology Centre of the KU Leuven, published Monday.
The Leuven researchers — Laura Jacobs, Celine Wuyts and Geert Loosveldt — rely on results from the European Social Survey, which was conducted in 2016 with 34,837 European citizens from 18 countries (including 1,766 Belgians). They compared this data to the conclusions of a similar study done in 2002.
Today, Belgians agree more frequently with the statement according to which recognized refugees should be able to bring members of their family into their host country; but in the same time, they worry about the negative spin-offs of migration on the labour market and on social security. The most negative among them are also concerned about the influence of migration on criminality. Conversely, the resultant cultural enrichment is increasingly underlined.
The personal context of the respondents plays an important part. Belgians who maintain closer ties with people from other ethnic and cultural origins are more inclined to see the advantages of migration. The most enthusiastic ones are from Brussels. Likewise, young people are more optimistic than their elders on this subject. As are those with a higher level of education, some interest in politics, or a personal history related to immigration.