UK-born children of migrants 'feel more discriminated against' than foreign migrants

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People born in Britain to migrant parents are more likely to feel discriminated against than migrants who are new to the UK, research suggests.

Evidence from two 2018 surveys points to ethnicity being at the root of any perceived discrimination rather than a person's status as a migrant.

Among immigrants, more than 70% say Britain is welcoming and 90% believe migrants can make it if they work hard.

But more non-EU migrants feel they face prejudice than those from Europe.

The University of Oxford's Migration Observatory briefing, Migrants and Discrimination in the UK, is based on data accrued in the European Social Survey and the UK longevity household study (40,000 households) in 2018.

Amongst predominantly white migrants from the EU, only 8% say they feel they are discriminated against in Britain, while those from outside the EU are more than twice as likely to say they were part of a group that is discriminated against, at 19%.

For second generation migrants, born in Britain, the sense of being discriminated against increases to 30%.

Dr Marina Fernandez-Reino, researcher at the Migration Observatory and author of the briefing, described the reasons behind the perceived hostility as "complex".

"Some UK-born minorities actually have worse outcomes than migrants, such as higher unemployment," she said.

"Research also suggests that children of migrants, who were born and raised here, have higher expectations and so are more sensitive to inequalities or unequal treatment they encounter.

"By contrast, people who migrated here may compare their experience to life in their country of origin and feel that they have benefited from moving - even if they still face some disadvantages."

Oxford Migration Observatory research on attitudes to immigration finds more than a third of British people would want no Nigerians or Pakistanis to come to the UK, but just one in 10 would want to stop those from culturally close countries, such as Australia.

EU migrants have traditionally reported fewer experiences of discrimination than those born outside the EU.

However, there was a spike in the number of EU migrants who reported experiencing discrimination around the time of the EU referendum in 2016 - more than double the levels seen in 2010-12 or later, in 2018.

In addition, data for 2016-2018 shows EU migrants in the UK were more likely to feel that they faced discrimination (14%) than EU migrants in other EU countries (9%).

By contrast, the perception of discrimination among non-EU migrants was slightly lower in the UK than in the rest of the EU.

The latest data suggest attitudes to immigration in the UK have softened again since 2016.

"The increase in EU migrants' perceptions of discrimination around the time of the referendum is likely associated with the public debate in that period," said Dr Fernandez Reino.

"EU migration was one of the top issues on the UK political agenda in the run-up to the 2016 vote, but has received less attention since."

BBC Briefing is a mini-series of downloadable in-depth guides to the big issues in the news, with input from academics, researchers and journalists. It is the BBC's response to audiences demanding better explanation of the facts behind the headlines.