NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 7, 2008

A study by Alan Manning and Sanchari Roy, two economists from the London School of Economics, looks at how closely immigrants identify with British society.  Manning and Roy found that groups often considered resistant to integration were in fact more likely to identify as British than were other immigrants.

In response to the question, "What do you consider your national identity to be?":

  • Foreign born Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were more likely to claim a British identity than their counterparts from Canada, Western Europe and Japan.
  • The immigrants most eager to refuse the British label were Irish Catholics.

Religion had a small effect overall, but the results again defied stereotypes, say Manning and Roy:

  • Muslims are more likely than any other religious group to think of themselves as British.
  • With religion, as with nation of origin, all differences in the responses disappear by the third generation

The authors suggest that immigrants who experience a greater culture clash, such as those from poor non-democratic countries, have the most incentive to become British.  The data on national identity, they say, do not support alarmism about the effect of immigration in general or Muslims in particular on national identity.

Source:  Kerry Howley, "We're British," Reason, March 1, 2008.

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