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REVEALED: What do Austrians think about foreigners?

A new report about migration and integration in Austria shows there are big differences in how Austrians view foreigners - depending on age, location, education and how much money they have.

REVEALED: What do Austrians think about foreigners?
How do Austrians feel about foreigners? Photo: EXPA / AFP

The latest Statistical Yearbook for Migration and Integration from Statistik Austria reveals a clear socio-demographic divide in attitudes towards foreigners in Austria.

The 2021 report shows that in larger towns and cities, and within younger, well-educated people, attitudes towards foreigners are more positive.

Whereas in smaller communities (less than 5,000 residents) and among people aged 60 and over, attitudes towards foreigners are less positive.

The annual report has been published for more than ten years and the 2021 edition includes results from three groups: people born in Austria, people from the most common countries of migration (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey), and refugees in Austria (from Afghanistan, Syria and Chechnya).

Here is a breakdown of the results.

The generational divide

Overall, the opinion towards foreigners in Austria is divided, with 45 per cent saying living with migrants was “rather bad”. However, 47 per cent said living with migrants was “rather good”.

Then there are differences in age and education with 63 per cent of Austrians aged 16 to 29 considering coexistence to be “rather good”, compared to 57 per cent of people aged 60-plus viewing coexistence with foreigners as functioning poorly.

For Austrians with a university education, the rate of a positive attitude towards living with foreigners rose to 61 per cent.

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The report also shows that more than half of all Austrians (62 per cent) surveyed said they have regular contact with immigrants.

Younger people with a high level of education were more likely to have regular contact with non-Austrians, but 47 per cent of Austrian people aged 60-plus have almost no contact with immigrants.

Additionally, 46 per cent of Austrians think living with foreigners has worsened, compared with 22 per cent who saw an improvement.

Again, this can be broken by demographics with 39 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds seeing an improvement, but only 16 per cent of people aged 60-plus saying the same.

The geographical and financial divide

The results show that in smaller communities, 42 per cent said they have no contact with the immigrant population. 

This is not surprising as the majority of Austria’s international residents live in larger towns and cities.

For example, only 29 per cent of people living in Vienna and born in Austria said they have no contact with foreigners.

Likewise, Austrian people that identified with struggling financially were less likely to have positive attitudes or even regular contact with immigrants.

The report reveals that people that are comfortable financially are more than twice as likely to have contact with immigrants when compared with those with less money.

What do international residents say?

According to the report, nine out of ten migrants said they feel at home in Austria, with those that have lived in Austria for longer expressing strong feelings of being at home.

When immigrants were asked about their living situation, 60 per cent of people born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or Turkey said their personal life situation in Austria had improved in recent years.

For people from Afghanistan, Syria or Chechnya, 86 per cent reported a positive improvement.

READ MORE: How do foreigners feel about living in Austria?

However, these responses are also divided by age with more younger people reporting a positive improvement than the older generation.

But the report states that much of the older generation of international residents in Austria have lived in the country for longer and are already integrated, which means they will have seen less change in their situation.

People from Turkey feel most frequently discriminated against in Austria with 29 per cent saying they feel disadvantaged because of their migrant background.

For people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or Turkey, 49 per cent reported being discriminated against occasionally because of where they are from.

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Austria breaks population growth record in 2022

The country grew by a net 126,000 people last year – the most in its post-war history. The increase is down solely to immigration into the country, according to the country’s statistics agency.

Austria breaks population growth record in 2022

If it wasn’t for immigration into Austria, including refugee arrivals, the Austrian population would’ve shrunk last year.

That’s according to Statistics Austria, the country’s official agency.

126,000 net newcomers is a huge increase on 2021 numbers, where 46,000 net new people took up residence in Austria.

More than half that total was made up of the 67,000 refugees who fled to Austria from Ukraine as Russia began its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

READ ALSO: Ukrainian refugees push Austria’s population past nine million

Ukrainians constituted the largest group by far. The second-largest group, at 14,000 people, were Syrians. About 9,000 Germans also took up residence in Austria last year, who made up the largest share of the net 36,000 people who came from other EEA countries, Switzerland, or the UK in 2022. A further 2,700 came from Turkey.

The immigration into Austria more than made up for the country’s demographic slide – at least this time. Around 82,600 people were born in Austria last year, about 10,000 less than the number of people who died, leaving immigration solely responsible for the country’s population increase in 2022.

Out of the country’s 9 million people, about 1.7 million do not have Austrian citizenship.

READ ALSO: Vienna will ‘soon’ reach two million residents

The largest net increase in population was seen in Vienna, which got 50,000 new residents last year and is expected to pass the 2 million mark either this year or next.

Lower and Upper Austria saw the next highest increases at around 20,000 and 18,000 people, respectively. Styria saw another 17,000 new residents.