Migration Fears and EPU

Download Migration Fear and EPU Data for France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.

The recent flood of European immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa has stoked security fears and created anxiety about social and economic consequences. We provide new quantitative indicators for the intensity of migration-related fears in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Our indicators, which extend back to 1995, show unprecedented levels of concern about migration in 2015 for the European countries. We also construct new indicators of migration-related policy uncertainty, and find they often move with our migration fear indicators.

See coverage of this index here: CEPR VOX

To construct our Migration Fear and Policy Uncertainty Indices, we first define the following term sets:

  • Migration (M): "border control", Schengen, "open borders", migrant, migration, asylum, refugee, immigrant, immigration, assimilation, "human trafficking"
  • Fear (F): anxiety, panic, bomb, fear, crime, terror, worry, concern, violent
  • Economy (E): economic, economy
  • Policy (P): regulation, deficit, "white house", legislation, congress, "federal reserve"
  • Uncertainty (U): uncertainty, uncertain

These are our U.S. term sets, which we translate into German and French with the assistance of native speakers. The P term set differs for the European countries, as detailed in Baker, Bloom and Davis (2015).

To construct our Migration Fear Index, we count the number of newspaper articles with at least one term from each of the M and F term sets, and then divide by the total count of newspaper articles (in the same calendar quarter and country).

We construct our Migration Policy Uncertainty Index in the same way, except we instead count articles with at least one term from each of M, E, P and U term sets. We normalize each index to a mean value of 100 from 1995 to 2011.

We obtain counts from Le Monde for France, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Handelsblatt for Germany, the Financial Times and the Times of London for the United Kingdom, and US newspapers indexed by the Access World News Newsbank database for the United States. The figures displayed below, reproduced from our short article on "Immigration Fears and Policy Uncertainty," reflect counts obtained on 30 November 2015. Because it can take several days or more to populate the underlying newspaper archives, these counts may not capture the full effects of the Paris attacks in our November 2015.