Human trafficking, immigration, cross-national research, Eurobarometer, attitudes


Human trafficking is a global phenomenon, which is sometimes conflated with other cross-national social problems. While trafficking certainly occurs within countries, much of it occurs across borders. In this paper we examine one of the only available datasets that addresses individual concern about human trafficking: the Eurobarometer 2003. Individual concern about human trafficking matters, especially in democracies, because government policy is in part shaped by citizen preferences. When democratic governments are not responsive to citizens, they risk being voted out in the next election cycle. What we find is that concern for human trafficking varies by gender, age, marital status, income, political preference, distance from Africa and Asia, and percent immigrant. More interesting, we find that concern for human trafficking looks a lot like concern for illegal immigration. We discuss the multiple meanings of “concern”, the implications for public policy based on attitudinal research, the importance of asking the right questions, and the need for education on what human trafficking.