During the past several years the question of immigration has become one of the most significant social and political issues in a growing number of West European countries. Thus in 1990, the question of how to confront the problem of immigration ranked second (41 percent) only to the question of how to combat unemployment (66 percent) among the issues that the French population considered to be of top political priority for the next few years. At the end of 1991, more than 71 percent of the population of the western part of Germany regarded the question of refugees and foreigners a very important political issue. This was far more than they accorded environmental protection and unemployment (about 10 percent each).1 This growing concern over immigration had come at a time when most West European countries already held a sizeable immigrant population while being confronted by a wave of new arrivals. In 1987, the 12 countries of the European Community were home to more than 13 million foreign nationals, 60 percent of whom were from nonmember countries. The vast majority of non-EC nationals lived in Germany, France, and Great Britain. Belgium and the Netherlands also had sizeable non-EC populations (see Table 3.1). Among nonmember states, particularly Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria have received considerable numbers of immigrants. In 1987, roughly 15 percent of the Swiss, 4.6 percent of the Swedish, and 3.9 percent of the Austrian population were foreign nationals.
KeywordsFatigue Migration Europe Income Assimilation
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