Migration: France

Research Report: Attitudes towards refugees, immigrants and identity in France

SCI commissioned this report in conjunction with More in Common to provide first of its kind of information on how the French understand and feel about migration.

“Remaining loyal to France’s humanist tradition, the majority (55%) believe that ‘we should accept refugees in France as the reception of people fleeing war and violence is part of our country’s culture’”


Overall, the data revealed a more holistic and nuanced picture of French public opinion than previous reports.

SCI believes that this report represents an opportunity to craft a more accurate and positive story of how the French understand and respond to migration. And an opportunity to communicate constructively about migration with the majority of France.

Executive Summary (English)

Full Report (English)

Executive Summary (en Français)

Full Report (en Français)


Additional top findings:

  • The French population can be divided into five distinct opinion segments – one segment has positive views of immigration (30%), one has unwelcoming views (17%), while three segments (53%-total) have conflicting views.
  • Perception of Islam is a central determinant to people’s views on refugees, immigration, and otherness in general.
  • Gender plays a role in the conflicted middle. Women make up a disproportionate share of the middle segments and those in the middle show more openness to extremist messages.
  • Anxiety is high: anxiety about the future, terrorism, the economy, globalization, loss of identity and about perceived increases in immigration.

Top Recommendations:

  • Increase understanding of what it means to be Muslim in France, counter misleading perceptions of Muslims, and highlight what all those living in France have in common.
  • A message frame of inclusive patriotism composed of both rights and duties seems to be most effective for the middle segments.
  • The messages most likely to encourage support of refugees are those that refer to the ability of refugees to integrate.
  • Recognise public concerns and restore confidence in France’s system of integration. Lack of confidence in the ability of the authorities to manage immigration is being exacerbated and exploited by extremist parties.


The research, polling and focus groups were conducted by Ifop in partnership with More In Common.

SCI commissioned additional reports on Italy, Germany, and Greece and provided some support to an analogous survey in the Netherlands. More In Common plan to release a summary report of the Netherlands survey later this year. More In Common conducted similar research and reporting in the United States.

Research of this nature has been undertaken by Hope not Hate, and others, in England and Wales.  SCI commissioned a survey in Northern Ireland in 2019 and will release the findings in early 2020.


Close up on Catholics

Explore the detail of More in Common’s follow on study of attitudes among Catholics in France:

Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Migrants Among French Catholics.

Additional resources





Listen to Maïder Piola-Urtizberea from More in Common France, in conversation with SCI’s Rachel Williamson. They discuss why understanding the middle is important, successful pilot projects, what Maïder  and her team are working on now, and her advice to colleagues.


Upcoming in October 2019: Expanded segmentation research report by More in Common.

Going beyond attitudes towards migration, the new report will provide segmentation analysis across the breadth of social issues in France.

The report will give both a more complete picture of society’s views and insights about how to increase social cohesion.