National Institute Economic Review, (213) pp 1-4

Immigration has become one of the most discussed and controversial topics in recent public and political debates. This is true not just in the United Kingdom (UK), but also elsewhere in Europe, as well as in many other advanced economies, most notably the United States (US). For example, immigration became a major discussion point during the recent general election campaign in the UK, in spite of what appeared to have been an initial reluctance of some participants to engage in such debates. The importance of immigration is demonstrated by the strong attitudes that are displayed by the public. For instance, race and immigration has consistently been viewed as one of the most important issues facing Britain in recent years according to IPSOS/Mori’s monthly Issues Index. Typically, more than 30 per cent of those questioned since 2002 have considered race and immigration to be the most important issue. This peaked at over 40 per cent in late 2007 and early 2008, which corresponds with the time when migration from Central and Eastern Europe to the UK was at its highest. This made it the top ranked issue for the British public, since when it has been replaced by concerns over the economy. Attitudes have also been found to vary by skill group, with Scheve and Slaughter (2001) reporting a significantly greater preference for limiting immigrant flows to the US amongst less skilled workers.