Why are young people more welcoming of refugees than older generations? In 2017, a survey of global millennials conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) found that an overwhelming majority (72.6%) of people aged between 18 and 35 would welcome refugees into their country.

In the United States, a survey carried out by the PEW Research showed that under 35s are much less likely to view refugees as a threat compared to people over 65. Likewise, in Britain, a 2016 BBC poll found that people aged 18-34 were “significantly more likely” than those aged 65+ to say their country should take more refugees.

Why is that? Is it because, as the old saying goes, if you’re not a liberal at 25 you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 35 you have no brain? Or is it because young people travel more, meet more people of different faiths and ethnicities, and are generally more comfortable with a globalised world than their parents and grandparents?

In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we have launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis is on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.

Today, we are looking at Budapest. On 8 April 2018, Hungary held parliamentary elections which saw the ruling Fidesz party sweep to victory and retain its two-thirds majority. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán campaigned primarily on issues of immigration and opposition to refugees, with national ad campaigns accusing foreigners of meddling in domestic Hungarian politics.

Fidesz won support from all sectors of the electorate, including young people. However, Budapest bucked the national trend. Two-thirds of voting districts in the capital were carried by liberal opposition candidates. After the elections, young people from Budapest were out in force, protesting against the results. So, what’s going on?

Curious to know more about attitudes towards refugees and migrants in Hungary? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Béla, who points out that just because the Orbán governement is anti-refugee doesn’t mean everybody in Hungary shares the same views. Are younger Hungarians (particularly in big cities, such as Budapest), less prejudiced against refugees than older Hungarians?

To get an answer, we spoke to Timo Rinke, Project Director of Flight, Migration, and Integration in Europe at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Budapest. What would he say?

It’s true that, across Europe, there is a trend that young people are fundamentally more open and more liberal towards refugees than older people. However, in Hungary things are different. Young people are just as hostile to refugees, and polling conducted last year suggest only 27% of young people [in Hungary] are in favour of granting asylum to refugees…

There are, of course, regional differences. So, for example, [attitudes toward refugees among young people] in Budapest are much more open than in other parts of the country. We can see this attitude expressed in the recent election results, with [the governing, right-wing] Fidesz party being by far the most powerful political force among all age groups in the country, significantly increasing its voter base compared to other parties. If you look specifically at the age group 18-29, then 38% of young voters supported Fidesz and 31% voted for the radical nationalist party Jobbik… However, in addition to Fidesz and Jobbik, the [liberal] Momentum party was also relatively popular with young voters…

To get another perspective, we put the same question to Dr. Csaba Tóth, co-founder and strategic director of the Republican Institute, a liberal Hungarian think-tank. What would he say?

Of course, not everybody supports the Orbán government in Hungary. The government party got less than 50 percent of the vote in 2018 – so half the population did not vote for it.

However, there is only a small generational gap: Fidesz is losing the youngest people, but not by a big margin; they have about 40% support among the youngest people. Young people are more likely to vote for new parties – like the generational movement Momentum – but Fidesz remains popular in every age group.

Why are young people more receptive towards refugees? Is it because they travel more and have more opportunities to meet people of different ethnicities and cultures? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

If you’re interested in learning about how millenials are responding to the refugee crisis, then our partner think tank, Friends of Europe, has published a report highlighting various youth-led integration projects from across the EU.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / WikiMedia – Mstyslav ChernovEuropean Liberal Forum
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

69 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Lack of experience in the real world.

  2. avatar

    Because they wanna fix the sh**ty world previous generations left them. Power to them. They are better.

  3. avatar

    Ignorance of the real world. They have been brainwashed to think everything is peqce and love and haven’t been taught the negativity of mass migration. And the problem uncontrolled mass migration creates for the receiving country or the country they leave behind. As well as spreading of diseases once eradicate in first world countries, which are again being spread.

    • avatar

      Ignorance of the real world? It seems to me that nearly everyone who has experience and expertise of the real world is on the side of some degree of openness towards refugees. On your side are a bunch of grumpy right-wing politicians and equally grumpy voters who have never really left their own country.

      Right-wing Spaniards and Hungarians are total hypocrites. When your countries were dominated by oppressive regimes, you felt entitled to claim refuge in more democratic countries.

  4. avatar

    because they can not understand the difference between refugees anf immigrants?

  5. avatar

    Because they are idealist with no knowledge of how the real world works. If left unchecked they would destroy Western Civilisation for the sake of their feelings.

  6. avatar

    Their right side of the brain is not good connected yet with the left side of their brain , but they think their adults.

  7. avatar

    Their brains are programmed towards adaptation of the information projected IN stead of critrical processing – thinking. Perfect mass.!

  8. avatar

    Good god, none of above does even scratch the surface of the truth. This cocksure attitude stinks of a bitter old man’s psychiatric medicines.

    Young people are more receptive towards the third world, because the contemporary popculture push people to accept and even love the unknown. Some of us resist, but most of us tend to agree. The older generations remember the wars (spiced with some xenophobic propaganda) of the recent past more vividly. Some of them learned from them, but most of them did not.

    • avatar

      Thanks for proving my point.

    • avatar

      There is an old saying: “it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think that you’re stupid than to open it and prove them right”. You just proved every single person here that criticized youngsters as correct. Probably should have kept your mouth shut.

    • avatar

      Yeah, it’s proven that I don’t pay taxes. No comment, really xD

    • avatar

      Quite an original opinion, Peter. Interesting how the most prejudiced here are showing both their confirmation bias and mean-spirited nature, by wrongly assuming that your opinion supports their argument.

  9. avatar

    Lol i just read about the declining IQ of the youth probably related.

  10. avatar
    Nikola Aslanov

    Hard times create strong men,
    Strong men create good times,
    Good times create weak men,
    Weak men create hard times.

  11. avatar

    Wi in Greece to goo to army 17 yard old for free is eu

    • avatar

      Because of your neighbors!!!Scopje wants Macedonia.turkey wants the Aegean islands and Albania your house.

    • avatar

      bat pay if they want to by there.

    • avatar

      Do you like to work free .mr bozz

    • avatar

      free of what???

    • avatar

      Bus driver !

    • avatar

      I’m free to work. but i still don’t understand what you mean nikos??

    • avatar

      Before you speak think.or if you cant think because maybe you don’t have brain,use the internet to find out what is going on in the world.

  12. avatar

    younger folks pay taxes too, because they start doing part time jobs too for some pocket money.
    But the thing is… younger people are traveling more, seeing beyond what their media tells them about other countries and people, learn languages and cultures, are given a chance to travel and work and experience other countries even on long term periods, make friends. And become aware of more things. All this makes us aware of how all people are equal and of how the situation in some places is in such a mess because of the interests of a few psychos

    • avatar

      Do they travel to Afghanistan Iraq Syria Pakistan Iran ? Don’t think so…

    • avatar

      more young people to the middle-east for example.
      Syria was quite a developed country until the west messed up with it for oil, financing military groups. These people flee a conflict for Christ’s sake, they run for their lives because of ridiculous reasons.
      And yes, more people are going to Iran, for example, you have more bloggers traveling to Iran and etc. and discover great people with amazing heritage, food, who are welcoming.

  13. avatar

    Young people have more opportunities than in the past of interracting with foreigners: at schools, erasmus, ect. So they are more informed. Why do the majority of comments highlight the lack of experience and ignorance??? I personally have great hope on young people. Hope and shame. Past generations are not leaving a better world to them.

  14. avatar

    Maybe because they are less likely to be racist, xenofobic thugs like many of the people writing comments on this web?
    By the way I am older than most of you.

    • avatar

      You thing older people are all racist, xenophobic ? bit of an ageist statement isn’t it.

    • avatar

      wow Ivan I would have thought someone who waves big Union Jacks would have better English comprehension skills!

  15. avatar

    Because they are brainwashed in universities who are controlled and funded by the elite

  16. avatar

    Idealism. Short knowledge of history. No experience.

    • avatar

      History… like all the Polish people who were refugees? And yet more who were economic migrants? The hundreds of thousands of Hungarians who were refugees and felt entitled to settle in the west? I think it is the anti-refugee fanatics who are ignorant of history.

    • avatar

      my grandmother was a refugee in Mexico in the Spanish civil war. The keyword here is west to west. Compatible cultures, same religion and similar points of views. Hungarian refugees were academics. There are cultures that can’t be compatible.

  17. avatar

    Probably I’m not mature enough to understand some of this absurd comments… just to be clear I’m being ironic!
    We (the young people) are the most qualified generation ever, we are the generation with most access to information and knowledge and we know how to use that information, we know how to think by ourselves! It isn’t the age that make you aware of what real life means, it is the way you try to educate yourself.

    I believe that most of my generation is more receptive to refugees because we have a different understanding about what life should be. I believe that most of the young people believe that everyone should live their life the way they want, it may not be the way I want to live, but I have no right to impose my way of life to another.
    That being said, I know that the more refugees we received more will be the pressure in things like hospitals (…), but we have to do that effort because we have a moral responsibility to help the ones who are running way from war, who are running way from their countries to save their life’s!
    To the ones who think they come to Europe and don’t respect our way of life, I accept that some could do that, but that’s a problema of our rule of law, we must assure that don’t happen and act against who do that. But we cannot generalize and use that as a pretext to look way from the misery some people are going through…
    BTW we have responsibilities in the crisis in the Middle East! Everything started when the US, with our help invade Iraq, that was the beginning of all this chaos and now we have to deal with it!

    • avatar

      You still learning what real life is.

    • avatar

      so are you… everyone is, until the day they die.

  18. avatar

    Ask Italians, more than 60% of youth voted Lega+M5S…

  19. avatar

    Wow such a negative answers from bunch of ignorants. Well, young are not naive, that’s for sure. Many do understand world better. We’re different as we were risen in peaceful world. I travelled a lot, met people from so many countries, and I guess I saw “the real world” like some in here wrote. Yet, considering myself as youngster I know that so called “refugees” were taken their normal lives in their countries and were pushed out by instable political situation. Do you think that what? They come to Europe for fun or work? No, they had a work in their countries. Just try to think from their perspective and maybe one day you would be more receptive towards them. They’re the same people as YOU. You aren’t better.

    • avatar

      Your view of the world is very…idealistic. The concept that many of these “refugees” came to europe to take advantage of the welfare system is probably alien to you.

      I assume you also don’t see any correlation between places that took a lot of “refugees” and the spike in crimes in those areas.

    • avatar

      well it isn’t “idealistic” yet you make so many assumtions hat make me just laugh. I just know enough of people to base my point of view on. They may take advantages if they’re allowed to by government. Where I live migrants are working, no matter from where they’re from. They do work very well yet they don’t take any social benefits as there aren’t any for migrants. Spike in crimes huh? Sounds like another right wing b.llshit.

    • avatar

      “The concept that many of these “refugees” came to europe to take advantage of the welfare system”… has been broadcast by you people endlessly.
      Did you go to France to take advantage of the welfare system? Looks like it to me. Hypocrite.

      “I assume you also don’t see any correlation between places that took a lot of “refugees” and the spike in crimes in those areas.”

      If you want someone to see it, provide evidence. And not just of one or two such areas, show actual evidence that refugees cause crime.

  20. avatar

    Because young people are inexperienced.

    • avatar

      Because old people have alzheimer

    • avatar

      Because young people are spoiled by safety and think it is automatic.

    • avatar

      showing your ignorance doesn’t make you sound smart… just the opposite in fact.

    • avatar

      I’ve never come across an anti-refugee fanatic who had any experience with actual refugees.

    • avatar

      where’s the fanatic?

    • avatar

      I live in Berlin, a major west European city. What’s your experience? What is your factual basis for claiming that every refugee is a financial migrant? Do you believe that the Syrian civil war never happened? Or that Afghanistan and Iraq are peaceful countries?

  21. avatar
    White Hawk

    Everybody is missing the point. For us Hungarians no party is the best. While daddy Orbán says we are protected, his party brings in migrants. Moreover, the amount of useless propaganda against “unreal” threats is insanely huge. I could also speak about national problems they make. Jobbik might be a great party, but they lack collaboration. They can’t work with lefters because they all proved to be unhealthy for the country. LMP is liberal, though they want to appeal to the younger generation, they still want to demolish the fence and bring in the migrants. I won’t speak about MSZP and DK. They are the absolute worst.

  22. avatar
    catherine benning

    Why are young people more receptive towards refugees?

    Because young people are the closest to mass indoctrination by the State via supposed ‘education.’ The young have not been as exposed through life experience into the reality of political chicanery. Therefore they lap up propaganda the way blotting paper does with ink. Hence the reason establishments continue to lower the voting age. Get the inexperienced to vote for what we have taught them is ‘right.’

    Refugees are not being brought into our society as a way to alleviate ‘their’ misery. It is not to offer refuge at all. It is done to exploit. And the exploitation is being perpetrated on the host culture, not on those claiming refuge.


  23. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    “Friends of Europe is very much part of the Europe-wide conversation on refugee integration.”

    Yes, and judging by the lack of response of ordinary young people to this (biased) EU & FoE political drive to insinuate that acceptance of the vaguely defined (but mainly Muslim) refugee integration agenda is welcomed or tolerated- seems a fallacy.

    One cannot conclude that a well traveled youth is embracing policies and uncritical of the EU & Friends open ended integration demands, affecting 27 members.

    That the youth of today is travelling more globally or has greater opportunities to do so is no secrete. Attitudes & opinions also change once the young mature during their “travel through life” arriving at their middle and old age- whatever label is used.

    This is not the resultant success by the EU’s regulatory supremacy’s wish/demand to spread the message to politically & socially integrate or accept integration as given and/or agree with Friends of Europe’s (hidden) agenda.

    Stats & trends expressed by looking at the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) and others reveal a more neutral & less politically skewed picture. Some examples:




    “Youth-led integration projects from across the EU” ?? No- they are EU led ones!

  24. avatar

    Young people have the energy and time to think about what they see in the media and not jump to convenient conclusions. Older people with more responsibilities tend to jump onto more convenient narratives because they simply have less time and energy to think things through. And perhaps they’ve been subject to more right-wing propaganda in their lives.

    Young people are also far more connected to the world, and realise that people from other countries are largely similar to themselves and want to have a good life too. So they empathise more and have a more realistic, although imperfect, picture of foreign people.

    • avatar

      ‘far more connected to the world’ … What ?! The reality of course is the young have no idea what the real world is from the comfort of their safe space & cocooned life.

    • avatar

      When I mean young, I mean under 30, not under 18. The young know more languages and are more international in their use of the internet. They have recent/current experience in university which is generally somewhat international. Many go on an Erasmus semester. Many travel as well, since they have more time, and travelhas become much cheaper in recent years. What is the basis for your assertion?

    • avatar

      All they see is the inside of capitalist hotels, wine bars and tourist attractions while living their lives on line with equally pampered snowflakes. I doubt very much they would give up that life style to help people in the 3rd world who have nothing. It’s easy to be compassionate when you are not the one to pay the price to fix it.

    • avatar

      it’s the anti-refugee people who are not willing to give up anything to help others.

      “All they see is the inside of capitalist hotels, wine bars and tourist attractions”
      Baseless stereotype. What great contributions to humanity are the anti-refugee people making?

      “I doubt very much they would give up that life style to help people in the 3rd world who have nothing.”
      It is generally the young people who volunteer to help refugees, or to go to volunteer third world countries. Not the people who demand to leave people in need out in the cold.

      I see, with this article, you are trying to get away from the specific question of why young people are more willing to help refugees. Why is that?

  25. avatar
    Paul X

    Probably becasue the older generation feel they have contributed to and helped shape the counrtry they live in and resent people just waltzing in and benefitting from what they have been paying for all their lives

    Whilst the younger generation have an attitude they are entitled to go anywhere and be provided for and therefore couldn#t care less if others do the same

  26. avatar

    Massive brainwashing, inexperience, elites want it that way, etc.
    Something like “diversity is strength”, and other slogans. There is a saying tell a lie enough times and it becomes the truth for the masses.
    Billions and billions spend through certain foundations, and foreign ngos (soros, ford, rockefeller, etc). Some of them give millions to the bought out politicians pretending to represent people. It happened with brexit. Amount of money given for stay was massive.

  27. avatar
    catherine benning

    Why are young people more receptive towards refugees?

    ***This following article was written by Peter Hitchens for the Mail on Sunday***

    Don’t be duped by this ‘rescue mission’

    The great Chinese sage Confucius correctly said that we would never get anything right until we learned to call things by their proper names.
    The blizzard of lies which surrounds the subject of mass immigration is one of the main reasons why we cannot deal with this crisis. Take, for instance, the incessant claims in all media that European ships are ‘rescuing’ the migrants who set sail night and day from Libya in leaky, unseaworthy little boats.
    No, that is not what they are doing. They are assisting greedy people-smugglers, who deliberately expose migrants to danger because they know they will then be picked up and taken to Italy, or wherever it is.
    I suppose it is just possible that the migrants themselves, mostly fit young men from sub-Saharan Africa, don’t know that this is the plan, in which case you have to wonder why they pay large sums of money to be allowed to get into vessels which are obviously dangerous and will plainly never get them across the Mediterranean.
    But the smugglers know it and so, I suspect, do quite a lot of the supposedly saintly charitable organisations which arrange for them to take the next stage in their journey. Again you have to ask yourself what precisely these people hope to achieve. This extraordinary process, never previously known in the history of civilised nations, is doing terrible damage to Europe.
    Every major country which has experienced this sudden arrival of lawless queue-jumpers has been convulsed with discontent and anger – for it is always the poor and weak who live with the direct consequences of open borders.
    It will not stop, or even slow down, if we continue to mislead ourselves. If we were really ‘rescuing’ these migrants, then what would stop us taking them back to the beaches they came from, which we never do?


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