Like most public policy issues, immigration is difficult to understand. The issue has complex effects on American society and the world at large. This difficulty doesn’t prevent most people from forming strong opinions on the topic, but unfortunately ignorance guides many of their opinions. And I don’t mean ignorance regarding the findings of peer‐reviewed literature or what social scientists say about immigration. I mean ignorance of basic facts about immigration, such as their numbers and percentage of the population, leads to systematic incorrect estimates.
This ignorance matters a lot. Some research has found that people significantly overestimate the number of immigrants, their percent of the population, and how culturally distant they are from themselves. On the individual level, holding incorrect factual opinions on immigration is correlated with being skeptical of the benefits of immigration. To be clear, many well‐informed people disagree with our policy recommendations. Being more knowledgeable on this topic can only help Americans form better policy opinions — regardless of what those opinions are. That’s something we all should welcome.
To reduce your own ignorance or to see how afflicted you are, take this test and see how well you do: