There is the time for various facts, and the political reactions they arouse. And then there is the long time of the story, and the lasting reflections that can be drawn from it. It is to this historical perspective that the new course of the National Museum of the History of Immigration invites us, which, inaugurated on Tuesday June 13, proposes to rediscover how immigrants have participated in the construction of French identity. On this occasion, the Museum has commissioned the research firm Occurrence, a subsidiary of Ifop, to produce a survey in an original format, which La Croix publishes exclusively.
If this survey confirms that 62% of respondents think that there are too many immigrants in France, and that only 47% consider that immigration is an opportunity for the country, in a more unprecedented way, “we also asked six questions of knowledge, on the share of immigrants in society, on their origin, their level of diploma… because we wanted to know whether or not there was a correlation between what we know about immigration and the opinion that We have them,” explains Assaël Adary, CEO of Occurrence.
Only one in a thousand responds correctly to knowledge questions
First surprise: only one respondent out of a thousand was able to answer the six questions correctly. Thus, a large number of people questioned think that immigrants form more than 20% of the population (compared to a little more than 10% in reality), are 80% from outside Europe (compared to 70 to 80%), are in two-thirds of men’s cases (against one in two), and 80% without a diploma (60% do not have the baccalaureate or higher). They are less numerous to be mistaken concerning the share of mixed unions (which are between 10 and 20% of marriages) and that of French people with an immigrant background (which represent between a quarter and a third of the population).
Thus, “lack of knowledge is a bit of the bottom of the sauce of French society in terms of immigration”, analyzes Assaël Adary. It is as if the French considered that there are more immigrants than in reality and that a majority of them are men from distant countries and without qualifications. This may explain a greater reluctance. Thus, while 62% of French people consider that there are too many immigrants, this percentage rises to 73% for those who are wrong on the six knowledge questions. Similarly, while 47% of respondents consider immigration to be an opportunity, only 32% of those who cannot answer any of the six questions think so. In short, “the weaker the knowledge, the more the opinions are against immigration”, affirms the pollster.
Immigration better experienced by those around it
The survey also scrutinizes the real relations with immigrants: a third of the people questioned declare having people of immigrant origin in their family relations and 73% consider that it is an enrichment for them; one out of two has it in their friendships and 67% are happy about it; one in two sees it in their professional environment and 61% think it’s a bonus. Only the mixity in the neighborhood is not considered as an enrichment. “It seems that the more immigrants you know in your close circles, the more you appreciate them, and that conversely the more you consider them as a group, the more you are likely to be wary of them”, continues Assaël Adary.
Similarly, to the general question “Would it have been more difficult or less difficult to maintain the activity of essential services?” ” without people with an immigrant background during the Covid, the majority answer “no more no less”. But when we go into detail, in the building, waste or catering sectors, the most respondents are those who believe that things would have worked less well. “If overall immigration appears to be an irritant, concludes Assaël Adary, when we confront opinions with the reality of the facts and the experience of people, things go better. There is room here for a more peaceful debate. »