Twenty-one percent of the respondents in a survey taken in Estonia last month consider the topic of refugees to be the biggest problem that the Estonian society is faced with at the moment.
1 in 5 respondents in Estonian survey see refugee issue as biggest problem
Only the responses of people who are Estonian citizens were counted in the survey.
In place two was unspecified other topic, which is how the answers of 17 percent of the respondents were defined in the survey conducted by Turu-Uuringute AS, and in third place unemployment with 12 percent.
"It's controversial that in a situation where not a single refugee has arrived in Estonia under the quota, the absolutely biggest portion of respondents see the topic of refugees as an especially important problem at the present moment. It means that the information that has reached Estonia against the backdrop of developments in Europe has caused a situation where people have a significant fear of mass immigration," Karin Reivart, survey manager at Turu-Uuringute AS, said. "It's worth mentioning that this was a survey with open-ended answers, meaning that the respondents were offered no answers to choose from and they had to name the problems themselves."
It also appears from the survey that women have become more critical of refugees than men, with 22 percent of women and 20 percent of men naming refugees as the biggest problem.
"In the Memokraat survey whose outcome was published in the fall there was no difference between the responses of men and women on refugees,"Reivart said, adding that the difference probably can be attributed to the events in Cologne over the New Year.
Of different age groups, the percentage of respondents seeing immigration as the biggest problem was highest among 18 to 24-year-olds, of whom 32 percent named immigration. Regionally, such answers dominated in Central Estonia, where immigration was named by 31 percent. When it comes to ethnic background, Estonian speakers are more prone than Russian-speakers to name immigration, the ratios being respectively 22 percent and 14 percent.
In a breakdown by education level, immigration was named as the biggest problem by 25 percent of people with non-secondary vocational education, by 24 percent of people with secondary or secondary vocational education and by 15 percent of respondents with higher education.
Refugees were ranked as the biggest problem by voters of the Reform Party, of whom 31 percent named it as the biggest problem, by 22 percent of voters of Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) and of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), by 21 percent of voters of Social Democrats and by 19 percent of people who said they would vote either the Center Party or the Free Party.
Low wages, pensions and standard of living was named the biggest problem by nine percent, with poverty and social problems, as well as the government not paying heed to the people named by six percent each.
Three different problems, or political and economic corruption, low economic growth and poor state of the economy, and split in the society and people's meanness, were named by three percent of the respondents each.
Two percent singled out either poor availability of medical care, Estonians' xenophobia and intolerance, low birth rates, emigration and especially the emigration of young people, and political bickering.
For one percent the main problem was either the Registered Partnership Act and homosexuals, or the coping of young families. One percent of respondents said there was no such problem and 8 percent couldn't name the biggest problem.
The survey was conducted by interviewing 795 Estonian citizens of ages 18 and above in January 2016.