The European Social Survey (ESS), which brings together researchers from various European universities, is now in its tenth round and covers almost 60,000 respondents in 31 European countries. The study revealed that the degree of openness of the Portuguese to immigration has increased, as they are one of the most tolerant people in this field.

According to Expresso, Portugal is one of the countries where respondents register the greatest openness to immigrants and where this trend has increased since the beginning of the millennium, "along with the United Kingdom, Spain and Norway".

In 2022, when the survey was carried out, the United Kingdom had high levels of openness to foreigners, despite the fact that the political decisions of Conservative governments are increasingly aimed at making it more difficult for migrants to enter Britain.

On the other hand, anti-immigrant feeling has increased in countries such as Greece and Hungary, as well as in Czechia, where opposition to immigration has grown the most in the same period since 2002.

Another of the study's conclusions is that feelings of rejection are more significant in poor countries than in rich ones. The results "indicate that the more socio-economically developed countries tend to be those where people are less opposed to immigration". However, the report mentions other studies carried out in Europe which "have already shown that the increase in the flow of immigrants has no significant impact on attitudes towards immigration".


With regards to immigrants as a "cultural threat", the study reveals that Portugal's tolerance has improved. If in 2002 the Portuguese survey put the cultural threat of immigration at level 6, it has now dropped to less than 5. The ranking of those who feel most threatened by immigration are, once again, the Czechs, Hungarians and Greeks, all close to level 7 out of 10.

"Low levels of interpersonal trust are a characteristic of the population living in Portugal. This profile is found both in 2002 and in 2022, with Portugal in the group of countries with values below the average value of the scale and the European average," the report reads. Only Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Serbia scored lower than Portugal among the 31 countries studied. Portugal scores 4.5 on the interpersonal trust index, while the countries where people trust each other the most are Sweden (6.7) and Finland (6.8).

Politics and democracy

According to Expresso, the Portuguese gave the police an average trust rating of 6 out of 10, but trust in the justice system "is lower now than it was in 2002, and is well below the average for the countries" where the survey was carried out. In 2002, the justice system had a trust rating of 5.5 and now it has fallen to 4.

In 2022, "politicians and political parties continue to be the groups to which the lowest values of trust are attributed", while "the police is the most trusted institution both in Portugal and in all countries, and was the only national institution that has seen a considerable increase in trust over the last two decades".

According to the report, "Portuguese democracy is seen as performing particularly poorly" when it comes to "equality before the law in the courts”. The perception of whether "the courts treat everyone the same" has worsened over the last 20 years. And the idea that "governments take measures to reduce income inequality" or "protect citizens from poverty" has not improved, even though various social benefits have been created and developed over these two decades.


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins