Research on Migration: Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities

Research on Migration: Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Research on Migration:
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
A Policy Review
Research and
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation
Directorate B — Open Innovation and Open Science
Unit B.6 — Open and inclusive Societies
Contact: Cristina Marcuzzo and Pilar Gonzalez Pantaleon
E-mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
European Commission
B-1049 Brussels
Research on Migration:
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
A Policy Review*
Prepared by
Prof Russell King and Dr Aija Lulle
under contract CT-EX2015D239101-101
* The views expressed reflect only those of the authors
Russell King is Professor of Geography, University of Sussex and Visiting Professor
in Migration Studies at Malmö University.
Aija Lulle is Research Fellow in the School of Global Studies at the University of
Sussex and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Migration Studies, University
of Latvia.
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation
Open and inclusive Societies
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Migration has become a crucial issue for Europe, one that is likely to dominate policy and
political agendas for many years to come. Migration is also increasingly presented, both
in public and expert discourse, as a challenge requiring coordinated European responses,
involving both Member States and the European institutions.
At European level the issue of migration is of long standing. For almost twenty years, the
EU has been building the foundations of an overarching and comprehensive migration
policy, which has gone hand in hand with the realisation of people freedom of movement.
Realising a common European migration policy requires a strong cooperation between
the EU and its Member States. The recent large inflow of asylum seekers and economic
migrants has forced policy-makers to react to the emergency. At the same time, a longterm and coordinated approach to migration is needed and beneficial to all European
countries in order to better integrate migrants and work out smartly our cultural bonds.
Even more than in the past, the development of a long-term vision for European
migration and mobility policies needs to be underpinned by sound evidence and analysis,
reliable and comparable data, of the kind that socio-economic research is in a position
to contribute to. At European level, research on migration was widely supported by
the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), in particular under the Socioeconomic Sciences and Humanities theme.
FP7 research projects studied different aspects of the migration phenomenon such as
integration and diversity, trans-nationalism, temporary/circular migration, migration and
development, migration flows, data and statistical modelling, to mention just a few of
the areas covered. The European comparative perspective brought in by most of this
research is an important added value of working with multi-country research teams in
the study of migration.
Research on migration and mobility will continue to be an important component of
Horizon 2020, the Research and Innovation Framework Programme for 2014-2020.
However, at a time of unprecedented mobilisation of public resources to tackle the
migration challenge, a stock-taking exercise of past and ongoing European socioeconomic research was felt to be necessary to bring this rich body of knowledge to the
attention of policy-makers, academia and the general public.
Unit Open and inclusive Societies
January 2016
In Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, Unit Open
and inclusive Societies, the work was coordinated by Cristina Marcuzzo and Philippe Keraudren.
Catherine Lemaire provided editorial assistance.
Introduction�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9
Facing the realities of migration and maximising its benefits����������12
Facts and figures on migration in Europe����������������������������������������������������14
Policies and Flows���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 21
2.1 Widespread aspirations confront restrictive immigration policies��������23
2.2 Geographies of flows have changed��������������������������������������������������������������������26
2.3 Temporalities of flows have also changed��������������������������������������������������������30
2.4 Family reunification: changing perspectives on a gendered process���33
2.5 Realising the potential of skilled migration������������������������������������������������������35
2.6 Challenges of measuring irregular migration���������������������������������������������������39
2.7 Forced migration, asylum and refugees�������������������������������������������������������������42
Integration������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 51
3.1 A contested concept�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������54
3.2 Multiple dimensions of integration�����������������������������������������������������������������������55
3.3 Economic integration: labour-market incorporation and fiscal outcomes
3.4 Challenges of social and cultural integration��������������������������������������������������67
3.5 Integration pathways of the post-migration generations�������������������������72
3.6 Spatial dimensions of integration��������������������������������������������������������������������������76
3.7 Integration is a political and a politicised process����������������������������������������79
3.8 Integration and transnationalism: not a zero-sum relationship�������������85
Migration and Development��������������������������������������������������������������������� 89
4.1 Linkages between migration and development: competing frameworks
4.2 Impacts of migration on development, inequality and migration propensity in home countries�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������93
4.3 Remittances: a panacea for survival and development?���������������������������96
4.4 Social remittances: a qualitative approach to development����������������104
4.5 The contribution of return migration�����������������������������������������������������������������106
4.6 Mobilising the diaspora: co-development and hometown associations
4.7 Skilled migration and the dilemmas of brain drain������������������������������������114
4.8 European perspectives on migration and development: a global
5.1 Flows and policies�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������123
5.2 The multiple challenges of integration������������������������������������������������������������124
5.3 Can migration be an agent for development?����������������������������������������������126
List of European research projects consulted for the review148
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Ask people in Europe to estimate the share of the world’s population who are international
migrants, and they will almost certainly give a figure which is an over-estimation. The
real figure, widely quoted by the United Nations, the International Organization for
Migration and other authorities, is simple: just over 3 per cent, or a total of 232 million
in 2013. The same goes for EU citizens’ guesses about the percentage of migrants in
their own country or continent. Often the results are spectacularly exaggerated.
According to the latest Eurobarometer survey data, immigration is now top of the ‘most
important concerns facing the EU’, with 38 per cent of respondents citing this response,
up from 24 per cent the previous year. Comparison of the figures in Table 1 shows a
cluster of concerns – immigration, terrorism and crime – which have suddenly increased
their prominence in public perception compared to the recent past, when economic
issues – the crisis, unemployment, public finances – were paramount. Concern for other
important issues, such as climate change and the environment, is also on the wane.
Table 1 - Answers to the question ‘What do you think are the two most important issues
facing the EU at the moment?’ (% data)
Autumn 2014
Spring 2015
Economic situation
The state of public finances
Rising prices, inflation, cost of living
EU’s influence in the world
Climate change
The environment
Energy supply
Other, none, don’t know
Source: Eurobarometer, Autumn 2014 and Spring 2015.
Clearly there is a general perception that Europe is facing a migration crisis. Our
newspapers, television bulletins and computer screens are filled daily with images which
reinforce this impression: the undeniable tragedy of thousands of migrants drowned in
the Mediterranean, especially in the sea between Sicily and Libya; the chaotic landings
on the Greek island of Kos; scenes from the migrant encampment outside Calais, and
its occupants’ repeated attempts to board lorries bound for England via the Eurotunnel;
logjams of migrants on the Greek Macedonian border; the attempt by Hungary to seal
off the border with Serbia; or, as at the end of August and beginning of September 2015,
the turning of Budapest’s Keleti station into a de facto refugee camp. The language
gets emotive towards migrants: indeed, the very words ‘migrant’ and ‘immigrant’ have
become inflected with connotations of negativity (Pritchard 2015: 34).
There are the realities of migration, and there is how these realities are perceived,
mediatised and politicised. Undoubtedly Europe does face challenges when dealing
with migration and its many related issues. And Europe is in need of a more coherent
migration policy which is based on solidarity between Member States. But the issue
must be kept in perspective, and the challenges responded to in a timely and flexible
The title of this report indicates its main narrative arc. The realities of migration have
to be faced in a way which is both principled and pragmatic. Wherever and whenever
possible, these challenges and realities should be ‘turned’ into a scenario where the
potential benefits of migration are maximised. This report synthesises the main findings
from several European research projects which deal with migration. Where possible,
these findings are matched, or occasionally contrasted, with key insights from the wider
research literature on migration. This literature is voluminous and growing fast.
European research projects on migration and intra-EU mobility
The FP7 projects reviewed here are in three groups. First are completed projects which
deal wholly or mainly with migration:
EUMAGINE – Imagining Europe from the Outside
MAFE – Migrations between Africa and Europe
SOM – Support and Opposition to Migration
TRANS-NET – Transnationalisation, Migration and Transformation: A Multi-Level Analysis of Migrant Transnationalism
Second are two projects centrally concerned with migration but only recently started,
so outputs are as yet very few:
EURA-NET – Transnational Migration in Transition: Transformative Characteristics of Temporary Mobility of People
TEMPER – Temporary versus Permanent Migration
Third, there is a longer list of projects, some parts of which deal directly or indirectly
with migration, whose outputs have been selectively sampled:
ACCEPT PLURALISM – Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion: Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century
DEMAND-AT – Demand-Side Measures Against Human Trafficking
EDUMIGROM – Ethnic Differences in Education and Diverging Prospects for Urban Youth in an Enlarged Europe
EUMARGINS – On the Margins of the European Community
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
FIDUCIA – New European Crimes and Trust-Based Policy
GEITONIES – Generating Interethnic Tolerance and Neighbourhood Integration in European Urban Spaces
NEUJOBS – Creating and Adapting Jobs in Europe in the Context of a Socio-Ecological Transition
NOPOOR – Enhancing Knowledge for Renewed Policies against Poverty
RURBANAFRICA – African Rural–City Connections
SEARCH – Sharing Knowledge Assets: InterRegionally Cohesive Neighbourhoods
WWWforEUROPE – Welfare, Wealth, Work for Europe
In addition, selected outputs have been included from the NORFACE (New Opportunities
for Research Funding Agency Co-operation in Europe) Migration programme of
research, part-funded by the European Commission, of which 12 projects were on the
theme ‘Migration in Europe: Social, Economic, Cultural and Policy Dynamics’. Reference
is also made to the FP6 project IMISCOE – International Migration, Integration and
Social Cohesion in Europe, whose activities have continued after the end of the EU
funding period in 2010, leading to a permanent cooperation between researchers.
This report is made up of five chapters: three substantive ones, plus an introduction and
a concluding chapter.
Chapter 1 sets the scene with regard to the ongoing European debate on migration and some basic facts and figures.
Chapter 2 is about the two-way interaction between policies and flows. Its main focus is on regular migration but it also contains sections on asylum and refugees, and on irregular migration.
Chapter 3 tackles the vexed and complex issue of integration from a variety of perspectives – economic, social, cultural, spatial and political.
Chapter 4 is about migration and development, specifically the potential of migration for stimulating development in migrants’ countries of origin. Key topics are remittances, return migration, and diaspora involvement.
Chapter 5 concludes by highlighting key findings and their policy implications.
1.1 Facing the realities of migration and maximising its
This report draws much of its stimulus from issues and guidelines contained in recent
Commission documents pertaining to migration. Key here is A European Agenda on
Migration (EC 2015). Triggered by the need to respond to the unfolding human tragedy in
the Mediterranean, the ‘Agenda’ emphasises the broader need to develop well-managed
opportunities for legal migration whilst, at the same time, reducing the incentives for
irregular migration and improving the effective management of borders. The need for
EU-level action was made clear:
No Member State can effectively address migration alone … we need a new, more European approach. This requires using all policies and tools at our disposal – combining internal and external policies to best effect. All actors: Member States, EU institutions, International Organisations, civil society, local authorities and third countries need to work together to make a common European migration policy a reality (EC 2015: 2).
This common migration policy is still some way off, not least because there are few
issues as divisive within Europe, and within individual countries, as migration. ‘Front-line’
states like Italy, Malta, Greece and, most recently, Hungary repeatedly petition the EU
for more resources to help them to cope with the sudden influxes of migrants fleeing
the war-stricken and human-rights-abuse trouble-spots of Africa and the Middle East.
Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel, whose country is estimated to receive more than
800,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, likewise sends out pleas for a more equitable burdensharing (Traynor and Harding 2015).
A European Agenda on Migration
Beyond the immediate objective of saving lives at sea, the European Agenda proceeds
to nominate four pillars for a more effective management of migration. These are,
firstly, reducing the incentives for irregular migration. Key objectives under this pillar
are addressing the root causes of irregular and forced displacement in third countries,
cracking down on the smugglers and traffickers of migrants, and encouraging the
repatriation of irregular migrants. These issues are picked up at various points in
report – see, especially, sections 2.6, 2.7 and 4.2.
The second pillar is about border management. ‘Smart borders’ will enable a tradeoff between increasing the efficiency of border crossing for bona fide third-country
travellers whilst, at the same time, strengthening the campaign against irregular
migration by better use of IT systems such as Eurodac and the Schengen Information
The third pillar, a common asylum policy, requires a more coherent application of the
current Common European Asylum System and a re-evaluation of the effectiveness and
fairness of the Dublin system, which has seen 72 per cent of all asylum applications
EU-wide being submitted to just five Member States. This report deals with the asylum
issue in section 2.7.
The fourth pillar – a new policy for legal migration – moves towards the ideal of
fostering migrants’ integration in Europe and maximising the benefits of migration,
initially for the EU in terms of helping to plug labour-market needs, but with an
increasing focus on development in migrants’ countries of origin. This initiative builds
on previous Commission communications, dating back more than a decade, in which
the EU has started to frame a debate about the positive relationship of migration to
development (see, especially, CEC 2005a). These are the subjects of Chapters 3 and
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Facts and figures on migration in Europe
Worldwide, as noted above, 232 million people are living in a country which is different
from the one in which they were born – 3.2 per cent of the world’s population. By
comparison, there were 150 million international migrants, 2.5 per cent of global
population, in 2000 (IOM 2000: 3, 55).
The common perception is that most of the world’s migrants have moved from poor
to wealthy countries – from the ‘global South’ to the ‘global North’. This is not the
case. The latest IOM World Migration Report 2013 divides global migration into four
pathways: South-North, South-South, North-North and North-South. It is true that
South-North is the largest of these ‘compass migrations’, and it is also true that this is
the migration pathway that is increasing the fastest, but it still comprises a minority of
global migration – around 40 per cent. Almost as many people have migrated within the
global South – 37 per cent. Intra-North migration accounts for 19 per cent, and NorthSouth for just 4 per cent of the total1.
As part of the global North, the EU has a figure for the foreign-born which is more than
three times the global average – 10.4 per cent compared to 3.2 per cent – and this share
is forecast to grow steadily or even substantially in the future, to nearly 18 per cent in
2031 (Table 2).
Table 2 - Share of foreign-born in EU countries’ total population, 2011 and forecast for
Czech Republic
Source: Lanzieri (2011).
EU total
These figures represent the average of three slightly different definitions of exactly which
countries make up the global North and South, and are calculated from figures in IOM (2013: 55).
Table 2 also shows rather large variations around the EU average for the current share
of foreign-born, ranging from Luxembourg (36.3 per cent), Cyprus (18.8 per cent) and
Ireland (17.6 per cent) at the top end to Romania (0.6 per cent), Bulgaria (0.7 per cent)
and Poland (2.0 per cent) at the other extreme2. For several countries, the share of
immigrants is forecast to more or less double by 2031. The two main exceptions to the
general upward trend are Estonia and Latvia, where the substantial Russian minority
populations will shrink due to mortality and emigration.
Table 3 - Stocks of foreign-born and foreign citizens in EU15, 2012
Foreign citizens
Source: OECD (2014: 362–363, 382–383).
Portugal (2011)
The ‘stock’ of immigrants (defined as foreign-born) in the EU28 stood at 51.4 million on
1 January 2014: 33.5 million were born outside the EU28 and 17.9 million were born
in a different EU state to the one where they reside. But there are two ways of defining
‘immigrants’ or the ‘foreign population’ – by birthplace and by citizenship. The contrast
between these two approaches is made evident by a comparison between France and
Germany. France is a traditional ius soli country (citizenship by birthplace) and hence has
Yet, to put these figures in context, Europe as a whole is not amongst the parts of the world with
the highest share of population made up of immigrants. These are the Gulf States (including Qatar 86.5%,
UAE 70.0%, Kuwait 68.8%, Bahrain 39.1%), Saudi Arabia 27.8%, Jordan 45.9%, Israel 40.4%, Singapore
40.7%, Canada 21.3%, Australia 21.9% and New Zealand 22.4%. These are UN data for 2010 listed in King
et al. (2010: 104–111).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
granted citizenship to those born in France and has also allowed very many long-term
foreign-born residents to naturalise. The total of foreign-born (7.5 million) therefore far
exceeds that of foreign citizens (4 million): see Table 3. In Germany, a traditional ius
sanguinis country (citizenship by ‘blood’ or descent), there is a history of denying German
citizenship to the German-born children (and even grandchildren) of immigrants. This
was consistent with Germany’s self-identity as an ‘ethnic nation’ with ‘guestworkers’,
not ‘immigrants’. Since the late 1990s, however, Germany has significantly liberalised its
naturalisation laws, with the result that here, too, the foreign-born population exceeds
the foreign nationals: this common pattern goes across the board, with the exceptions
of Greece and Luxembourg (Table 3)3.
In 2014, the largest numbers of non-nationals living in the EU were in Germany (7
million), the UK (5 million), Italy (4.9 million), Spain (4.7 million) and France (4.2 million).
Collectively, these five Member States accounted for 76 per cent of all non-nationals
living in the EU, rather more than their combined share of total EU population (63 per
cent). France, Germany and the UK are ‘old’ countries of immigration; Spain and Italy
are ‘new’ immigration countries, where numbers of immigrants have escalated since
the 1990s4.
Moving from stocks to flows of migrants, during 2013 the EU received 3.4 million
immigrants, whilst 2.8 million emigrants departed5. These migration in- and out-flows
include moves both with other EU countries, and from/to outside the EU. On the basis
of the simple geographical origin of the immigrant inflows, equal numbers arrived from
within and outside the EU (1.7 million each). The picture is a bit more complicated
regarding the citizenship of the immigrants. Of the 3.4 million, 1.4 million were citizens
of non-EU countries (‘third-country nationals’), 1.2 million were citizens of different EU
Member States, and the rest, 0.8 million, were citizens of the same country which they
were entering (either as returning nationals or as nationals born abroad).
Greece can be regarded as the EU15 country which makes access to citizenship the most difficult
for immigrants – unless they are born abroad as part of the Greek diaspora. Luxembourg is a special case
because of its small size and high numbers of EU nationals working for the EU institutions. The figures for
the foreign-born in Tables 2 and 3 do not match because of different reference dates and the different
statistical adjustment procedures of Eurostat and the OECD.
Spain, however, has ‘lost’ immigrants in recent years, due to crisis-provoked return migration. The
same has happened in Greece.
Note that the use of the terms ‘immigrant’ and ‘emigrant’ here refers purely to the directionality of movement, into and out of a country, without any assumption of national origin. To take a concrete
example, immigration to Spain includes both foreign nationals, and Spanish nationals returning to Spain. And
emigration from Spain includes both departing Spanish nationals and immigrants to Spain who are returning
‘home’ (or moving to another country). Unless otherwise stated, the figures in the rest of this section are
from Eurostat: Migration and Migrant Population Statistics, May 2015.
Migration flows into the EU
Delving into the patterning of the inflows by category of citizenship, most countries
received 30–40 per cent of their immigrants from non-EU origin countries. A few
countries contradicted this trend, notably Italy, Spain and Sweden. Two-thirds of
immigrants to Italy were from outside the EU, coming from a wide spread of countries
in South America, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe (notably Albania and
Ukraine) and Asia (notably China, Bangladesh, the Philippines etc.). A broadly similar
pattern holds for Spain, with Latin America more dominant. Sweden’s immigrant
origins (55 per cent from outside the EU) reflect this country’s generous asylum policy,
with recent refugee flows from the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
By contrast, the share of immigrants coming from other EU countries is highest for
Luxembourg, 91 per cent. The third component of incoming migration flows, that of
‘own nationals’, is highest for Romania (90 per cent), Lithuania (86), Estonia (60),
Poland (60) and Latvia (58). Clearly these are mostly returning migrants, since none
of these countries receives many immigrants.
Of the EU28, 15 countries recorded net immigration – an excess of in-movers over
out-movers – during 2014 (Table 4). All 13 net emigration countries had weaker and
generally smaller economies than those of net immigration. The net migration losers
were, in descending order of relative magnitude, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania,
Ireland, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Romania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Table 4 - Net migration in EU28, per 1,000 inhabitants, 2007–14
Czech Republic
Source: Eurostat 2015, online table code: tsdde230
Note: some figures are estimates or provisional
The temporal patterning of migration trends across the years of the economic crisis is
revealed by comparing figures for each country for 2007 (just before the crisis), 2010
(when the crisis was close to its peak) and 2014 (the most recent year of data availability).
The impact of the crisis on the migration dynamics of Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Portugal
and Spain is very clear, transforming them from countries of immigration to emigration
within a few years. Other countries have different profiles, such as the three Baltic
republics (Estonia, Lavia and Lithuania) which record net emigration across all three
sample years. Romania records very high net emigration in the year it joined the EU.
On the other side of the migration coin, several countries of the European ‘core’ were
significant net importers of migrants across all three years.
The largest absolute immigrant inflows (figures in thousands for 2013) were to Germany
(693), the UK (526), France (333), Italy (308) and Spain (281). The biggest outflows were
from Spain (532), the UK (317), France (301), Poland (276) and Germany (259). For net
immigration, Germany and the UK stand out in terms of absolute numbers6; for net
emigration it is Poland and Spain which are top of the list in terms of absolute numbers.
However, when it comes to the intensity of migration (migrants as a proportion of total
population), it is the small countries that record the highest indices, for both in- and outmovement (Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus).
People migrate for a variety of reasons, often in combination. Decisions might be
related to work, study, family reunion, lifestyle, escape from oppression and many other
factors. But at base, for the majority of migrants, the underlying rationale is economic
and, at one stage removed, demographic. An ageing population is arguably Europe’s
greatest long-term challenge, with effects on the future structure of the workforce, the
sustainability of the pension budget and the organisation of society.
Eurostat’s latest population forecasts show a rather disturbing increase of old-age
dependency ratios in all EU countries, and a decline of the working-age population by
18 million by 2030. This is one important context in which the benefits of migration
can be ‘reaped’ (Crespo Cuaresma et al. 2015). In short, immigrants can rejuvenate
the population. In 2013, the median age of newly arriving migrants was 28 years,
compared to a median of 42 for the EU28 population. Of course, immigrants also
age; the median figure for the stock of foreign nationals living in the EU was 35 in
2013. So the rejuvenating strategy is only effective if it is ongoing, and this might push
the share of immigrants in the population to levels which are politically and socially
unacceptable. There are also ethical issues of such ‘demographic engineering’ – taking
the young people from one country to repair the demographic problems of another.
Furthermore, if migrants are moving within Europe, then young departing migrants from
demographically vulnerable countries like Greece or Lithuania will only accentuate the
ageing of the population in their home countries.
Table 5 presents the forecast figures for the economically active population (15–64-yearolds) in nine major EU economies for the period up to 2050. The German working-age
population, the largest in the EU (at least for the time being), had already declined by 3
million between 2000 and 2010. A further decline of 7.6 million is forecast for 2010–
All the signs indicate that Germany and the UK, as Europe’s largest and strongest economies,
are continuing to attract migrants through 2014 and 2015. In Britain, this trend has conflicting political and
economic implications, revealed by figures released by the Office of National Statistics in August 2015. In
the 12 months to March 2015, net migration reached 330,000, higher than the previous peak of 320,000
recorded in 2005, straight after EU enlargement brought in large numbers of Poles and other East Europeans to the buoyant British labour market. The dilemma pits the Conservative government’s often-stated
commitment to cut net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ (i.e. below 100,000) against the economic success and attractiveness of Britain, where there is renewed strong demand for skilled (and also less-skilled)
migrants. For details, see Travis (2015).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
30, and another loss of 6.9 million during 2030–50. Germany is by no means unique.
Proportionate declines of comparable or even greater magnitude are predicted for
Eastern European countries like Poland and Romania, due to a combination of recently
falling birth rates and large-scale emigration over the past decade and into the future.
The situation looks more stable for other countries – Sweden, the UK, France – due to
somewhat higher birth rates and higher levels of immigration.
Table 5 - Forecast change in working-age population (age 15–64) in selected EU
countries, 2010–50 (millions)
Absolute change
% change
Source: After Groenewold and de Beer (2014: 5), with corrections.
This is not the place to enter into a detailed debate on the future structure and
sustainability of the EU population, but it is hard to envisage a future demographic
scenario in which migration will not play a significant role in most EU countries.
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Policies and Flows
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration flows and policies are reciprocally related: migration flows create the need for
policies to manage them, and policies, in return, shape ongoing and future migration
flows. A European Agenda on Migration is clear in its recognition of the need to
strengthen and develop new policies to respond to what are seen as new migratory
pressures and challenges. Three main policy thrusts are evident in this Communication
(EC 2015: 14–18):
more-effective asylum and visa procedures;
firmer and more targeted measures for the integration of migrants; and
tackling irregular migration by, on the one hand, ‘smarter’ border management and, on the other, strengthening policies on legal migration, including a focus on attracting students and other talented and highly skilled persons.
Why are migration policies needed? There are those who passionately argue for ‘open
borders’. Such arguments come both from neoclassical economists, who oppose state
control and see migration as leading to an optimum allocation of resources (e.g. Simon
1990), and from left-leaning critical scholars who say that ‘international borders serve
to maintain global inequality’ (Zolberg 1989: 406). Nett (1971) points out the underlying
legal and ethical contradiction: whilst emigration from a country is widely regarded as a
fundamental human right, the right to immigrate to a country is not. And yet, logically,
every emigrant is also an immigrant.
But the reasons for having migration policies are very powerful. In the absence of
state controls over immigration, one country could simply peacefully ‘invade’ another
by colonisation. There is a widespread view that ‘uncontrolled mass migration would
threaten social cohesion, international solidarity and peace’ (Widgren 1990: 749). And
the argument continues. From a liberal-democratic viewpoint, the nation-state is the
appropriate level at which human beings develop democratic societies and political
organisation; it is therefore necessary to limit membership in some fashion in order to
preserve a functioning political community (Walzer 1983).
Fielding (1993: 44) proposes the following typology of immigration control policies, with
some European examples:
unrestricted entry (‘free movement between countries in the Schengen area);
promotional entry (‘guestworker’ migration to Germany, 1961–73);
permissive entry (managers and professionals of multinational companies);
selective entry (family reunion); and
prohibited entry (so-called ‘irregular immigrants’).
This typology leads to another fundamental point which needs continually stressing:
migrations, nowadays, more so than in the past, are very diverse, and recognition of
this diversity is the first step towards both better theorisation of migration and more
realistic evidence-based policies. However, rather than offering a complete survey of
diverse migration flows and the highly differentiated and fragmented policy landscape,
this chapter focuses more on the relationships between theories, typologies, flows and
Policies and Flows
The account draws on basic divisions of international migration flows which are both
heuristically useful and need to be problematised: forced vs voluntary migration,
temporary vs permanent migration, legal vs illegal and low- vs high-skilled migration
(King 2002). In the ‘new European age of migration’ these binary distinctions become
increasingly blurred and out-of-date. New patterns, motivations and modalities of
migration need to be explored which express themselves differentially in time and space.
Hence this chapter contains sections on ‘new geographies’ and ‘new temporalities’ of
migration. ‘Mixed migration’ – a term which encapsulates mixed motivations to migrate
as well as the mixed and changing nature of many migration flows – has become the
order of the day (Van Hear 2010: 1535).
To illustrate: temporary migration can lead to return, as intended by the term, or
temporary migrants can morph into permanent settlers or become ‘repeat migrants’
by circulating or onward-migrating to other countries. The skill divide is blurred by
de-skilling or up-skilling. That is to say, highly educated migrants can become lowskill workers if they are not able to transfer their skills and qualifications; or low-skill
migrants can be seen as ‘learning migrants’ who learn new skills and acquire human
capital through training and experience abroad (Williams and Baláž 2008). ‘Irregular’
migrants may get regularised or, conversely, ‘regular’ migrants can fall into an irregular
status if they are unable to renew their requisite permits for some reason, often not of
their own making.
Finally, in this preliminary scoping of the field, what actually qualifies as ‘migration’
becomes more difficult to decide in an era of accelerating and diversified mobilities (Urry
2007). The boundaries of what is usually considered the threshold for migration (six
months or a year in the ‘other place’) are challenged by circular, seasonal or pendular
migration. Long-stay ‘residential tourists’ from Northern Europe who over-winter in
the South are problematic as regards their definition as ‘immigrants’; likewise visiting
students on an Erasmus exchange, or family members who move transnationally for
weeks or months at a time to engage in care duties.
The chapter reviews the following topics, starting with a key issue in global migration
nowadays – the aspiration to migrate is by no means matched by the ability to migrate.
Separate sections on the new geographies and the new temporalities of European
migration follow. Family reunification is often called the ‘quiet migration’ since it takes
place outside of formal policies related to the labour market or refugee intakes. Next,
skilled migration is featured as the EU’s priority area for migrant recruitment. The final
two sections move outside the frame of legal, voluntary migration to examine, in turn,
irregular migration and the challenges currently posed by the accelerating crisis in
asylum and refugee arrivals.
2.1 Widespread aspirations confront restrictive immigration
For more than 20 years, Castles and Miller (1993) have persuasively argued that we
live in the ‘age of migration’ (see also Castles et al. 2014). This is true to the extent
that, since the late 1980s, migratory processes have diversified, globalised, accelerated
and become increasingly politicised (Castles et al. 2014: 16–17). More and more
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
countries have been drawn into the global migration matrix, and new types of human
mobility have sprung up around the margins of what is conventionally defined as the
phenomenon of international migration – ‘the movement of people to another country
leading to temporary or permanent resettlement’ (Bartram et al. 2014: 4).
How true is this ‘hype’ about migration? It can also be argued that, in contrast to the
past – either the nineteenth century or the early post-war decades – we live in an age
of migration control. So that, within the scenario of a ‘world on the move’, there are also
powerful forces preventing international migration, causing a state of forced immobility
in the age of migration.
Carling (2002) developed the ‘aspiration/ability’ model to explain how, at a time of
increased immigration control, increasing numbers of people aspire to migrate but lack
the ability to do so. Hence there is much to be gained by addressing the aspiration and
the ability to migrate separately. Aspiration is defined as the desire to migrate based
on a belief that migration is preferable to non-migration – usually in terms of economic
pay-off and often combined with perceived social and cultural benefits (Carling 2002:
12). This framework applies to migration which is essentially voluntary; it does not cater
for people fleeing war and persecution, whose migration is forced and whose aspiration
would have been to stay.
There are subtle differences in how the notion of aspiration can be semantically accessed,
particularly in comparative studies using different languages and hence facing problems
of translation equivalence. Even in English there is a plethora of terms, each with a
slightly different meaning – ‘wish’, ‘desire’, ‘intend’, ‘want to’, ‘would like to’ migrate are
some of the main words likely to be used.
The aspiration to migrate may be widespread in a country like Cape Verde (Carling
2002), where there is a long history and hence a ‘culture’ of migration. The problem here
is that the relative ease of migration in the past, which creates a general expectation
of migration amongst young people, is no longer the case today, when Cape Verdeans
have few legal channels available to migrate to Europe. Yet aspiring migrants can see
the tangible benefits of migration in their social contacts (face-to-face or via social
media) with their relatives and friends who are abroad, or in the behaviour and material
well-being of returned migrants.
The EUMAGINE project analysed the important yet under-explored research field of
migration aspirations by focusing on the perceptions and imaginations of ‘Europe’ held
by young adults aged 18–39 in four countries of emigration – Morocco, Senegal, Turkey
and Ukraine (de Clerck et al. 2012).
The 8,000 respondents surveyed in the four countries divided themselves equally
between those with definite aspirations to migrate and those who wanted to stay put.
Enthusiasm for migration to Europe was higher in the two African countries than in
Turkey and the Ukraine. Other relevant variables affecting the aspiration to migrate
were education (generally, more years of education link to higher migration aspirations),
age (younger cohorts being more oriented to migration than those aged 31–39), having
family members abroad (which usually increases migration aspirations but not across
the board) and gender (males aspire to migrate more than females, especially if the
Policies and Flows
latter are married and with children).
The more detailed findings pursued a twin-track set of multivariate analyses, looking,
first, at economic questions relating to labour-market opportunities in the home country
and in Europe and, second, at human-rights variables (democracy, corruption, gender
relations etc.) between the two geographic areas of home and abroad. Results reveal
the primacy of perceived economic well-being in calculations about the desirability
of migrating to Europe, and also that attitudes went beyond simple rational, utilitymaximising decision-making to embrace perceived social and human-rights expectations.
EUMAGINE survey respondents generally perceived life opportunities in Europe positively,
especially on the economic front, but also as regards the issue of corruption. On the
whole, positive views of economic prospects in Europe were correlated with negative
views of the economy in the home country; together, these twin framings increased the
aspiration to migrate. But there were many exceptions to the generalised pattern: for
instance, the Turkish respondents had a more positive view of life in their own country
than the other three countries’ respondents did of theirs. In both Turkey and Senegal
there was a general perception that the standard of living was improving over time
whereas, in Ukraine, the perception was of deterioration. The results for Morocco were
more varied, depending on which of the sampled areas was taken. This outcome was
stressed by EUMAGINE researchers: namely that the specific geographic context within
the countries was often as important as between-country variations7.
If the above results are pretty much what could be expected, there is one key finding
from EUMAGINE which makes a more original contribution to ongoing debates about
migration, migration intentions and household well-being. For three of the four countries
surveyed (Morocco, Turkey and Senegal) there is a negative relationship between
household wealth and migration aspiration. Only in Ukraine is there no relation: here
aspiration to migrate is constant across all wealth levels (as it is across education levels,
too). For Morocco and Turkey, the negative correlation is significant; for Senegal there is
a negative relationship but not at the level of statistical significance.
This finding (especially for Turkey and Morocco) is interesting for two reasons. First, it
goes against other findings that it is not the poorest who migrate internationally but
the less poor (the poor are regarded as ‘too poor’ or too lacking in social capabilities
to move abroad8). Second, there is a strong policy implication, namely that, at least
in middle-income countries like Turkey and Morocco, improvement in living standards
can reduce pressures to migrate. This debate is picked up for further discussion in
Chapter 4 (sections 4.1 and 4.2). For now, we recognise that there are differences
between migration aspirations, migration capabilities and migration outcomes. High
levels of migration aspiration by the poor might be driven by a strong sense of relative
deprivation, but they still may migrate less because of a lack of resources and poor
social connections (de Clerck et al. 2012: 21). Especially in Turkey, with its booming
economy and good opportunities for those from educated, middle-class backgrounds,
emigration is increasingly seen as being mainly for ‘losers’.
The EUMAGINE survey was administered in 16 selected regions across the four countries, comprising areas of high and low emigration as well as contrasts in levels of development and in rural vs urban
This is the conclusion from literature reviewed by de Haas (2007, 2010).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Turkey is also a country with a long post-war experience of large-scale emigration to many
European destinations. It has developed what might be called a high level of knowledge
capital on migration. Especially in regions with a pronounced ‘culture of migration’, the
widespread existence of detailed feedback has a calibrating effect on future migration
aspirations and trends. For the Turkish case, although migrants maintain positive views
of human rights in Europe, their own experiences of tough working conditions, relative
deprivation and discrimination abroad dissuade other potential migrants (Timmerman
et al. 2014).
There are other policy implications that emerge from EUMAGINE, and also from MAFE,
which studies emigration from three African countries – Senegal, Ghana and the
Democratic Republic of Congo. The most fundamental one is the fact that widespread
aspirations for migration collide with the lack of legal opportunities to migrate to
Europe. This important issue has many ramifications. The first is to shift the theorisation
of migration away from approaches based on economics (labour demand, wage rates
etc.) to more political-economy approaches which acknowledge states’ control over
migration, the shaping roles of quotas for migration and the selectivity of privileging
entry only to highly educated and highly skilled migrants.
What we also witness in the ‘age of migration’ are important ‘social transformations’
that counter the top-down power exercised by states and supra-national political entities
(Member States and the EU). Instead, (potential) migrants increasingly enact their
own agency via their social networks, transnational family connections, and links with
specific recruitment channels and employers. The meso-level of networks, associations,
agencies and brokers is seen as increasingly important in explaining how contemporary
migration ‘works’ (Faist 1997; Castles 2010).
MAFE research demonstrates that restrictive migration policies in the EU do not, and
probably cannot, stop migration. They merely make it more challenging, forcing wouldbe migrants to be more inventive in their migration strategies – paying smugglers more,
taking greater risks, and constantly looking for new access routes. MAFE also found
that, although the legal means for entry into Europe were becoming more restricted, the
demand for cheap labour in southern EU countries – especially Italy and Spain – led to
increased migration, particularly from Senegal and Ghana (see MAFE 2013a).
2.2 Geographies of flows have changed
The attraction of the Southern European countries (Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal)
to immigrants from Africa and from many other parts of the less-developed world
– Latin America, South Asia, China, the Philippines etc. – is one of the biggest shifts
in the geography of migration flows into Europe in recent decades, but not the only
one. Taking the long view of the seven decades since the end of World War Two, three
main geographies of European migration can be identified, more or less chronologically
sequenced. Three main structuring factors shape these macro-geographical phases: the
economic conjuncture, the evolving policy regime at Member-State and EU level, and the
staged expansion of the EU towards its less-developed margins – towards the south in
the 1980s and the east in the 2000s.
Policies and Flows
The first geographically patterned phase runs from 1945 until 1973 and was fuelled
first by post-war reconstruction following the ravages of war in those countries the
worst affected (above all, Britain and Germany) and subsequently by the long boom
of industrial expansion that ran from the 1950s to the oil crisis in late 1973. There
was a very clear geography to these labour-migration flows: from the ‘peripheral’ and
more rural countries of Western Europe and the Mediterranean Basin to the ‘core’
industrial economies of Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and
Switzerland. The main sending countries were Spain and Portugal (mainly to France),
Italy (to France, Germany and Switzerland), Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey (mainly
to Germany), the three North African Maghreb states of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia
(mainly to France, but Moroccans also to Belgium and the Netherlands), Ireland (to
Britain) and Finland (to Sweden). In addition, some destination countries recruited or
received large numbers of migrants from (former) colonial territories: Britain from the
Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent, France from the francophone Caribbean and
West Africa, and the Netherlands from Surinam and the Dutch Antilles. Migrants were
mainly employed in factories, mines and construction projects, but many also took jobs
in hospitals, transport services, hotels and catering9.
The second phase sees the rise of Southern Europe as the chief entry-region for nonEU migrants, especially those coming from less-developed parts of the world. The
accession of Greece (1981) and Spain and Portugal (1986) to join European Community
founder-member Italy, combined with the rising prosperity of these four countries and
their relative ‘openness’ to migration from across the Mediterranean and beyond, saw
their immigrant stocks rise rapidly through the 1990s and 2000s. Their foreign-born
totals stand at 6.6 million for Spain, 5.7m for Italy, 872,000 for Portugal and 730,000
for Greece (2012 data from OECD 2014: 362–363).
Each of the four southern EU countries has its own ‘supply geography’ of migrants.
For Spain the main sending countries – in descending size of their migrant stock – are
Romania, Morocco and several South and Central American countries (Ecuador, Colombia,
Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic). Italy’s foreign-born
groups are highly diversified geographically – Romania, Albania, Morocco, Ukraine,
China, Moldova, the Philippines, India, Poland, Peru, Tunisia and Brazil all have sendingcountry-born totals of at least 100,000 (Romanians number 1 million). In Portugal the
main foreign-born groups are from Portuguese-speaking countries – Angola, Brazil,
Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau (and Venezuela) all have more than 25,000.
Greece has a different pattern, with one country – Albania – accounting for half of all the
foreign-born who do not have Greek ethnicity. Other important groups (above 20,000)
are from Bulgaria, Romania and Pakistan10.
In contrast to the first phase, when most migrant workers were hired through formal
schemes to work in specific – mainly industrial – jobs, initially on fixed-term contracts
but with many converting into more-or-less permanent immigrants, the labour niches for
migrants in Southern Europe are more diversified. Many work in the informal economy
The detailed geography of migrations in this era is described in Salt and Clout (1976); see also
King (1993) and Bonifazi (2008) for more recent overviews.
These figures are from OECD (2014: 369, 372, 375, 377). Excluded from these listings of figures
are other European migrant groups who are not labour migrants; they are mostly professionals and retirees
– for instance, the British-born and German-born in Spain occupy respectively the 4th and 7th positions in
the list of foreign-born.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
and have minimal social protection, although the situation has improved with successive
regularisations of migrants in these countries since the 1990s. Key employment sectors
include construction (for men) and domestic and elderly-care work (for women), but
other labour niches include work in the agriculture, fishing and tourist sectors, as well as
(especially in Italy) factory and artisan workshop employment11.
The third phase, and the third geographical configuration of migration, dates from the
collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989–90. This opened up the East–West axis for migration
through the 1990s and even more so for the EU8 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the
Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia) and then EU2 (Romania, Bulgaria) countries
accessing the EU in 2004 and 2007 respectively, joined by Croatia in 2014. Some of
these new flows have been ‘East to South’, with Romanians (especially) and also Poles
and Bulgarians establishing significant presences in the southern EU countries, alongside
non-EU Ukrainians, Moldovans and Albanians. But the main effect of the removal of the
Iron Curtain and the accessions listed above has been ‘a continent moving west’ (Black
et al. 2010). The post-2004 movement of an estimated 600,000 Poles to the UK has
been the single biggest ‘migration event’ of this new enlargement era12.
It is clear from the fast-expanding literature on East–West migration that new migratory
forms came into existence after 1989, different to those of the two earlier phases
described above. Concepts such as ‘incomplete migration’, ‘pendular migration’ and
‘liquid migration’ were offered to capture the provisional and flexible characteristics of
these East–West border crossers (Okólski 2001; Engbersen and Snel 2013). Their work
was short-term, they frequently moved on from one job and place to another, they
generally migrated as single individuals (or, if married, left their spouses and families
behind), and they were slow to put down roots in the place where they worked. In
a memorable phrase, Engbersen and Snel (2013: 35) characterised their ‘migratory
habitus’ as one of ‘intentional unpredictability’.
Most of the ongoing research on these new geographies of East–West mobilities comes
not from the FP7 projects reviewed here, which deal with the issues and phenomena
described above tangentially, but from a series of books produced by the FP6 IMISCOE
Network of Excellence on ‘International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion
in Europe’13. IMISCOE’s research is still proceeding, organised around several active
research clusters and a large annual conference.
Four additional ‘new migration geographies’ can be identified from recent literature and
For literature on what some have called the ‘Southern European model’ of labour immigration,
see King et al. (2000); Cangiano and Strozza (2008); Peixoto et al. (2012).
Poles, as well as Lithuanians and Latvians, migrated in large numbers not only to Britain but
also to Ireland in the years after 2004. The UK and Ireland, along with Sweden, were the only three EU15
countries to freely open up their labour markets to give immediate access to the ten countries which joined
in 2004. The migration to Sweden was lower because it was more difficult for migrants to find jobs in the
highly regulated Swedish labour market, whereas the labour markets of the UK and Ireland were more open
and deregulated.
Specifically on Eastern Europe, see Black et al. (2010) and Glorius et al. (2013); other useful
overviews with fresh insights into East–West migration are Bonifazi et al. (2008) and Okólski (2012). These
studies also reveal the emergence of immigrations into the EU accession countries, mainly from the poorer
new member States to the richer and larger ones – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. These ‘newest’
migrations, likely to grow in the future, contribute a new area for comparative research which is still under
Policies and Flows
considered supplementary to the three main ones described above.
The first operationalises a concept which resonates through this report – transnationalism.
This theoretical notion is particularly relevant for migrants who keep in regular
contact with their home communities and families and who, in effect, live their lives
transnationally, between two (possibly more) places. They make frequent return visits
and keep in regular touch via other means. From the Senegalese part of the MAFE
project, Mazzucato et al. (2013: 119), along with others who study Senegalese migrants
in Italy (Riccio 2001; Sinatti 2011), call them ‘transmigrants’, due to the way in which
they organise their lives and travel patterns between Europe and Senegal.
Due to family reunification policies which require a certain level of economic well-being
(stable employment, adequate housing etc.), Senegalese transmigrants, who are mostly
young men, tend not to reunite with their families in Europe (see section 2.4). Rather,
they engage in informal, spontaneous, opportunity-driven forms of work and mobility.
One of their main activities is trading through market stalls or as itinerant hawkers in
cities and seaside resorts. They are also mobile internationally within Europe, especially
around the triangle of Spain, Italy and France (Toma and Castagnone 2015).
This leads to the second geographical refinement to inward migration to Europe: the
practice of some groups, notably Senegalese and other West Africans, to onwardmigrate within Europe. For Nigerians and Ghanaians especially, the end-destinations are
usually ‘desirable’ Northern European countries such as the UK, Germany or Sweden.
Spain and Italy are used as entry-points or stepping-stones where it is easier to ‘arrive’
and then get some sort of residence or stay permit (Ahrens et al. 2015; Toma and
Castagnone 2015). Other studies have focused on refugee-origin Somalis who, having
obtained refugee status in the Netherlands or in one of the Nordic countries, onwardmigrate to Britain, where they foresee better chances of work for themselves and
education for their children (van Liempt 2011).
The third new geographical concept is transit migration (Collyer and de Haas 2012). This
is a phenomenon which takes place particularly on the margins of Europe, in countries
and places such as Morocco (Tangiers), Turkey (Istanbul) and the coast of Libya. EU
islands, such as the Canaries, Malta, Lampedusa and Lesbos, and the Spanish North
African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, are also seen as transit points: a first foothold in
EU Schengen space. The migrants themselves mostly originate not from Morocco, Libya
or Turkey but from further afield – Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia or
beyond. They consist of both refugees and economic migrants (though the distinction
is often hard to draw) and most have travelled long and hard to get to their transit
launching point.
Transit migrants are liminal migrants occupying liminal spaces, and their labelling as ‘in
transit’ emphasises their temporariness and ‘non-belonging. ‘Transit migration’ is not,
therefore, a politically neutral term. It is sometimes used by governments to re-brand de
facto settlers as people who should leave and move on (Collyer and de Haas 2012: 479).
It also, to some extent, simplifies reality, assuming a migratory origin, a destination,
and a transit space in between. The reality is that journeys can take years and become
very fragmented and uncertain. Aspirations can change along the route. Migrants may
become ‘stranded’ – for instance, in Istanbul – and decide to opt for ‘second-best’ and
stay there long-term, living and working in the urban economy (Collyer 2010). Or the
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
end-destination may be through and beyond Europe, for instance in the USA or Canada.
Finally, there are new geographies of migration produced by the global financial crisis,
which hit several smaller, peripheral EU economies very hard: spectacularly so Greece,
but also Portugal, Ireland, the Baltic states and the larger economies of Spain and
Italy. Several authors have discussed the crisis and its impact on global and European
migration dynamics (e.g. Ghosh 2013; Bevelander and Petersson 2014; or see Castles et
al. 2014: 247–253 for a summary of key points). These general surveys find that, at a
global level, the impact of the crisis was surprisingly muted. Migration rates slackened,
but did not halt; there was no mass return migration of the unemployed; and remittances
dipped by 6 per cent but quickly recovered. Most migrants, it seems, hunkered down,
tightened their belts, and rode out the crisis as well as they could.
The main effect in Europe was to stimulate new waves of departure from the peripheral
countries listed above, especially of younger graduates who cannot get, or have lost,
jobs in their home countries and who are also pessimistic about their longer-term future
prospects there. Hence the periphery-to-core patterns of intra-European migrations of
the 1950s to 1970s are re-enacted, but with a very different type of migrant. Nowadays
they are mostly highly educated, single, footloose and with an open-minded agenda
about the future.
Whilst the present-day migrations are directed to the strong economies of the EU – the
UK and Germany especially – the precise destinations have shifted from the industrial
regions of the postwar labour migrants to the major cities and capitals where a wide
range of mostly service-sector opportunities are available. London has strongly emerged
as the key magnet (King et al. 2014)14.
2.3 Temporalities of flows have also changed
All migrations take place in a simultaneous time-space setting (Malmberg 1997).
Therefore, all geographies of migration – or any form of human mobility – have temporal
dimensions as well. Often, short-distance moves, such as cross-border commuting,
take place over short time-spans and with high frequencies, whereas long-distance
migrations, such as from Europe to Australia, take place infrequently, perhaps only once
in a lifetime.
The new geographies of migration in Europe, facilitated by free movement for those
‘within’, or controlled by visa regulations for those ‘outside’, are lubricated by faster and
cheaper travel, but they also reflect changing temporalities of movement. Even the very
word ‘migration’ gets elided to accommodate the new time-regimes of mobility rather
than migration. Once again, this is not a neutral semantic shift. Migration implies that
the migrants will stay for some time, perhaps for good. Mobility implies that people will
not stay but will remain on the move; they will move on or return back home.
In light of the above, it is interesting to observe that the word ‘migration’ is often
accompanied, or even replaced, by the term ‘mobility’ in recent Commission documents
For other relevant case-studies, see Labrianidis and Vogiatzis (2013); Triandafyllidou and Gropas
(2014; Bygnes (2015); Conti and King (2015).
Policies and Flows
(e.g. EC 2011a; EC 2014: 3, 815). A similar shift from migration towards mobility is
evident in recent IOM ‘World Migration’ reports (IOM 2008: 23–49; 2010: 11–27). And
the UNDP Human Development Report devoted to the developmental possibilities of
migration preferred the term mobility in its title and throughout much of the text (UNDP
Since the early 2000s, circular migration, sometimes referred to as temporary migration
programmes or TMPs (Ruhs 2006), has become all the rage in international migration
policy circles. It is seen as a rational strategy when trying to balance receiving countries’
specific needs for certain types of labour with the aim of migrants being effective
contributors to their home country’s development. The virtuous result is the ‘win-winwin’ situation which circular migration theoretically offers: the migrants win because
they get work and an income, the receiving countries win because their labour needs
are suddenly filled without having the cost of ‘raising’ the workers from birth, and the
sending countries win because they can export their unemployed workers and get back,
in return, flows of remittances and savings from migrants’ earnings abroad. This triplewin scenario is discussed in more detail and from a more critical stance in Chapter 4
(see section 4.1).
To a certain extent, and in many contexts, the benefits alluded to above are real.
Moreover, this can be a pragmatic solution to the desire of migrants (increasingly seen
as transnational migrants) to not uproot themselves from home and to keep at least
part of their lives (including, perhaps, their families) based there.
The more questionable aspects of circular migration are raised by several authors. Writing
in a NEUJOBS publication, Cholewinski (2014) points to the danger of circular migrants
being reduced to a commodity to be traded back and forth, with little attention given
to their rights as workers or as human beings. Hence they may suffer discrimination,
exploitation and social exclusion; they may be denied their workers’ rights and attention
may not be paid to their integration; it is also likely that they will not be able to bring
family members with them. Castles (2006) writes that circular migration recalls the old
and discredited guestworker system, and therefore runs the risk of the same negative
social outcomes. Nevertheless, circular migration is more amenable to public opinion
than other types of migration, because the idea is that the temporary workers will not
stay long.
Two other FP7 projects are more centrally geared to the study of temporary migration
and circular mobility. Both only started in 2014, so outputs are preliminary. TEMPER
investigates temporary and other short-term migration flows, focusing on a number
of countries from four major geographic sending areas: Eastern Europe (Romania,
Ukraine), Latin America (Argentina, Colombia), Sub-Saharan Africa (Democratic Republic
of Congo, Ghana, Senegal) and North Africa (Morocco). The destination countries under
analysis are France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Thus far, TEMPER (2015) has carried out
an inventory of EU and national legislation on short-term migration which shows that,
although the EU has succeeded in harmonising some aspects of its relevant migration
policy, such as short-stay visas, many procedures and discretionary implementations
are at the state level and are not being harmonised. As an example, the challenge of
migrant overstaying remains a question of weak internal controls rather than one of
In EU documents, ‘mobility’ usually refers to intra-EU mobility for EU citizens.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
efficient entry controls, since most overstayers enter legally on visitor, tourist or student
Overall, TEMPER has identified great difficulties in measuring actual temporary and
circular migration flows, mainly because most national statistical systems in the EU
have limited possibilities to measure out-migration. Furthermore, detailed scrutiny of
Eurostat data on immigration showed the underlying heterogeneity of the information
provided by different countries, partially concealed by the lack of proper documentation
in the metadata, thus making comparisons less reliable.
In addition to this work, the TEMPER project is developing ‘ImPol’, a tool that allows a
historical quantitative and qualitative overview of immigration policies of different EU
countries since the 1970s, classified by channel of entry – short-stay, family, irregular,
studies and work. The ImPol database has systematically collected and codified legal
texts including international treaties, laws, decrees, circulars, instructions and judgments
that regulate the entry of foreigners of any nationality into three EU countries (France,
Italy and Spain) for the period between 1960 and 2008. The database is currently being
extended to 2015 and the UK is being included among the destination countries.
The greatest value of ImPol derives from the fact that information has been codified in a
way that allows not only for contextual analyses, but also for a wide range of statistical
analyses aimed at 'measuring' the effect of admission policies on a range of outcomes.
The index will be used by TEMPER, in combination with primary data collection exercises,
as a tool for the evaluation of how policies on temporary and circular labour migration
are actually being implemented in different EU Member States.
The other project, EURA-NET, aims to understand the evolving nature of temporary
migration in the Euro-Asian context and analyses transnational migration and mobility
between the following countries: China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, the
Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey and Ukraine. The project emphasises, first, that
there is no commonly agreed definition of what constitutes ‘temporary migration’, as
definitions and registration procedures differ across countries. A second preliminary
finding is that temporary migration between the EU and Asia is on the increase, in the
general context of globalisation and more specifically due to Asia’s growing markets
and large and increasingly highly educated population (Pitkänen and Carrera 2014;
Pitkänen and Korpela 2015). For example, Thailand attracts increasing numbers of
retirees, medical tourists and lifestyle migrants from Europe. Most Europeans in Asia
are resident there on a temporary basis (and presumably such is also their intention),
whereas Asian people typically migrate to Europe wanting to have the option of settling
permanently; however, due to restrictions in the receiving countries, their residence often
ends up being temporary.
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The proposal for a Touring Visa
The EU’s Agenda on Migration nominates the better administration of legal shortterm visits as a key step forward in the quest for better overall management of legal
migration (EC 2015: 15–16). Some initiatives are already under way. In 2014 the
Commission proposed the establishment of a new type of visa, the Touring Visa. The
objective here is to maximise the economic impact of attracting more tourists and
visitors who come for personal, professional or business reasons, whilst minimising
the risks of irregular migration or compromising security. The proposal foresees that
the touring visa should be available to both visa-exempt and visa-requiring thirdcountry nationals with a legitimate interest in travelling around the Schengen area for
up to one year (without staying in one country for more than 90 days in any 180-day
The general thrust of EU policy thinking and allied research reflects a twin approach
to increasing the facilitation of mobility and circularity but being cautious about the
long-term settlement of migrants. Objectively, there is a need to recognise the changing
temporalities of people’s movements around the world, including in and out of, and
within, Europe. There are the needs of businesspeople, professionals, students, academics
and transnational family carers, all of whom need flexible and helpful policies of legal
access. More difficult is the policy landscape of labour migration, especially in job sectors
where seasonal work is important (agriculture, tourism) and where demand for labour
has to be effectively matched with supply, both in space and in time. Often this can be
achieved, with the added benefit that the workers themselves want to maintain their
ongoing lives in their countries of origin. This demands, however, that special attention
be paid to working conditions and the maintenance of a respectful social status, so that
temporary or circulating labour is not exploited or socially degraded (Nieswand 2011).
2.4 Family reunification: changing perspectives on a gendered
The economic framing of migration as an individual decision shaped by the balance
between costs and benefits (Sjaastad 1962), or as a process mediated by relations
between the individual and the state, overlooks the fact that nearly all migrants are
embedded in families of one kind or another – nuclear, extended, multi-generational
etc. Many migrants migrate not as individuals but en famille. Not only is migration
often a ‘family affair’ but the migration of family reunion is the main legal means of
immigration to the EU, and has been so for more than forty years. Taking the most recent
year for which figures are available from Eurostat (2014), family reasons accounted
for 673,000, or 28.5 per cent of the 2.36 million first residence permits issued by EU
Member States to third-country nationals. The next largest category was employment
reasons (535,000 or 22.7 per cent).
In a useful review of family-related migration in Europe, Kofman (2004) lists several
reasons why this important form of migration has not received the attention it warrants.
The key reason is that the primacy of labour migration has sidelined the family context.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Other reasons include its difficult theorisation (not amenable to economic explanations)
and its association with ‘traditional’ models of family structure which inscribe the man
as the primary, working migrant, with subsidiary roles played by his ‘dependent’ wife and
children. This latter reason has been comprehensively challenged by the feminisation of
migration (increasing numbers of women migrate independently and not as ‘followers’),
the rise of the transnational approach (which recognises the key role played by women in
maintaining transnational relations), and finally the retheorisation of migration through
a gender lens (Kofman et al. 2000).
Apart from whole-family migration, where all members of the (usually nuclear) family
migrate together, most studies of transnational families and family reunion proceed
as follows. There is still an assumption that the primary migrant is male and that, at
some point, he will decide – or be permitted by the host state – to ‘bring over’ his wife
and dependent children. Restrictions may be applied to the age of the children (usually
only ‘minors’ under 18) and to the right, additionally, to bring in parents (who may be
vulnerable and dependent).
But there are many other forms of transnational family, whose shape can constantly
change as different family members move one way or another. For geographically
single (but married or partnered) migrants with families ‘left behind’, there is the vital
question of care – especially for left-behind children and elderly parents (Parreñas 2005;
Baldassar et al. 2007). Children may be cared for by the remaining spouse/partner or
by other family members, often their grandparents. The latter option is common where
both parents have emigrated in order to maximise their earning power. More sensitive
legal, moral and theological questions are associated with ‘other’ family forms such as
same-sex marriages/partnerships and polygamy.
A separate type of family-related migration is marriage migration, which can also take
different forms. A single, ‘first-generation’ migrant may bring over a spouse which s/he
has met, typically on a visit home or perhaps elsewhere in the diaspora. Or a ‘native’
of the host society may likewise ‘import’ a spouse whom s/he has met abroad or via
an online brokering agency. Or, finally, a ‘second-generation’ migrant-origin person may
bring in a fiancé(e)/spouse from the parents’ homeland or diasporic space. This last
sub-type is especially characteristic of Turkish and North African migrant populations in
Europe (Kofman 2004: 246–247).
The generally legalistic view of the various rights to family reunion has tended to entrench
the standard norm of the ‘Western’ nuclear family. A different way of understanding
migrant families is to view them as fluid compositions of people linked by kinship,
which may constantly be reconstituted, adapted and negotiated according to changing
circumstances and opportunities across space and through time (Bryceson and Vuorela
2002). Numerous examples of these flexible conceptualisations and expressions of
familyhood reshaped through international migration are given in two important edited
collections arising out of the IMISCOE programme of networked research (Grillo 2008;
Kraler et al. 2011).
The MAFE project provides rich insights into the complex dynamics of African migrant
families which span and are mobile between the transnational spaces of ‘home’ and
Europe. Two stand-out findings from MAFE are, first, that family reunion is not as
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widespread as sometimes thought, and therefore should not be overstated in politicised
debates about its role in driving up immigrant numbers and, second, that it happens as
much in Africa after return as it does in Europe. The key role of gender in structuring
transnational families and their shifting composition is also highlighted by MAFE.
Attention is drawn to the need to be attentive to gender issues in policies applying to
family reunification (see MAFE 2013b).
The complex dynamics of family reunification
In a bit more detail, then: three-quarters of the 1,500 Ghanaian, Senegalese and
Congolese migrants interviewed in MAFE were part of a nuclear family; for two out of
every five of these, migration had created a ‘split’ transnational family; the proportion
of these split families was especially high in Senegal, mainly due to the emigration
of the husband. Only one quarter of the Ghanaian and one third of the Congolese
migrants had become family-unified at the time of the survey; the figure for Senegal
was even lower.
Contrary to popular assumptions, family reunification took place more often postreturn in Africa than in Europe, although different family norms in the three countries
also made a difference16. In Senegal, polygamous marriages are more common than
in the other two countries, whereas child fostering is more common in Ghana. Senegal
is also the outlier with regard to gender relations and the feminisation of migration.
Senegal preserves a strict male-dominant gender hierarchy, which means that fewer
women migrate than in the other two countries, where a distinct feminisation of
migration flows to Europe is occurring (Mazzucato et al. 2013: 23–2917).
Taken as a whole, MAFE results are representative and robust evidence that the
politicised ‘fears’ about the multiplier effects of family reunification on migrant numbers
are misplaced.
2.5 Realising the potential of skilled migration
Europe competes globally to attract skilled workers, especially in such sectors as
science, technology, engineering and healthcare. There is – it is not an exaggeration
to say – a global race for talent in the highly developed economies of Europe, North
America and Australia and in emerging poles of the global economy such as the Gulf,
Singapore and China, to attract the ‘brightest and best’. This global competition also
includes international students, the highly qualified workers of the future. Over recent
decades, the international migration of the highly skilled has increased its share of
Much of what follows in the rest of this section is taken from MAFE (2013c).
Individual country breakdowns are as follows: 52 per cent of Ghanaian migrants eventually
reunited with their spouse in Ghana, compared to 25 per cent who reunified in Europe; for the DR Congo,
the respective figures were 37 and 24 per cent; and for Senegal 16 and 14 per cent. Overall, 66 per cent of
Ghanaian couples had reunited after separation through migration, compared to 52 per cent for DR Congo
and only 18 per cent for Senegal.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
total migration. For Europe as a whole, the share of highly skilled workers (those with
graduate qualifications) increased from 15 per cent in 1991 to more than a quarter
through the 2000s (IOM 2008: 53).
In its ‘new policy on legal migration’, the EU’s ‘Agenda for Migration’ speaks mainly
about ‘highly qualified third-country nationals’ and the need to ‘identify those economic
sectors and occupations that face … recruitment difficulties or skill gaps’ (EC 2015: 15).
These shortages, it can be predicted, will become acute in the future, with an ageing
European population, an economy increasingly dependent on high-skilled jobs, and a
shrinking workforce (see Table 4). The policy challenge will be to devise mechanisms
by which skill gaps can be matched with legal incoming skilled workers from outside
the EU, whilst maintaining ethical principles of recruitment to guard against brain drain
from less-developed countries (see section 4.718).
The prioritisation of highly skilled migrants in Europe is not just about the importation of
human capital to plug gaps in expertise in the labour market and drive innovation and
growth; it also reflects a belief that skilled migrants will adapt more easily to destination
societies. Their higher education levels make it less likely that they will be the bearers of
fundamentally ‘different’ cultural values which will be barriers to integration.
What is a ‘skilled worker’?
‘Skill’ remains a very elusive concept to pin down and, by implication, what constitutes
‘highly skilled’ is likewise open to debate. As Khadria (2014: 31) stresses in the
context of Indian migration, the traditional distinctions between skilled and unskilled,
or between highly skilled and low-skilled workers, are in many respects unhelpful.
They fail to do justice to the complexity of skills and how skill levels interact with
international migration. The introduction of other categories such as semi-skilled or
intermediate skills does not really help in the clarification. Khadria goes on to point
out that, on a global scale, and notwithstanding these difficulties of classification, the
migration of unskilled and semi-skilled workers is largely supply-driven (that is, driven
by ‘push factors’ from the countries of origin) whereas the mobility of highly skilled
‘knowledge workers’ is largely demand-driven by ‘pull factors’ from the destination
countries (2014: 31). As far as India is concerned, professionals and highly skilled
Indians abroad are seen as agents of development, having acquired an image of
‘global Indian citizens’ capable of channelling investment and technology to India,
whilst unskilled labour migrants, mainly in the Gulf States, are seen as India’s main
source of remittances (2014: 29).
Skill levels lie on a continuum, and any attempt to differentiate ‘high’ from ‘low’ is bound
to be arbitrary. The traditional markers based on educational attainment (e.g. tertiarylevel for the highly skilled) do not always work well. For example, tertiary education is not
According to the OECD, this is a policy challenge which has had little record of success (see OECD
2014: 133–231 for a comprehensive account).
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necessarily a guarantee of possession of designated skills, whilst some of the specific
skills and competences sought by employers are not necessarily conferred by higher
education (OECD 2014: 149). The criterion of certain skills being ‘needed’ or ‘wanted’
is also variable over time, as the bursting of the IT bubble demonstrates. Moreover, the
quality and depth of tertiary education varies considerably across the globe – and even
within Europe.
To be more constructive, Solimano (2008: 4, 22–30) describes highly skilled migrants as
purveyors of the following types of talent:
technical talent – experts in IT, telecommunications and computer science;
scientists, academics, researchers and international students;
health professionals – mainly medical doctors and nurses;
managers and entrepreneurs – a wide-ranging category comprising high-
level corporate professionals, bankers and businesspeople, down to the smaller-scale businesses of ‘ethnic entrepreneurs’ running trading companies or restaurants;
professionals in international organisations; and
cultural talent – artists, writers, musicians, designers etc.
Solimano’s typology covers the main types but is not exhaustive. For instance, the high
degree of international mobility of military personnel or of sporting talent is difficult to
classify. Few would deny that top footballers are highly skilled, but few of them have
university qualifications!
Clearly, skilled migration is a complex and dynamic field, and the commonly accepted
criterion of tertiary education does not always apply, not least because it does not
predict what happens during and after migration. Many people from Eastern Europe
who migrate to Western Europe (both intra-EU and from outside) have degrees from
their home countries but this does not guarantee them graduate-level employment
and many end up in low-skilled jobs. On the other hand, migration can itself be an
opportunity to upgrade skills and qualifications, so that ‘learning migrants’ become
skilled workers after a while.
The MAFE project’s findings confirm that African migration to Europe is basically
a migration of skills – although many migrants do not succeed in transferring their
imported skills and qualifications into appropriate-level jobs. The difference comes when
qualifications are obtained in the country of destination (see MAFE 2013b, 2013d).
EUMARGINS confirms MAFE’s findings about barriers to labour market access for young
immigrants, especially if they are so-called ‘visible’ minorities (Kallas et al. 2010).
The NEUJOBS project further highlights that 54 per cent of first-generation migrants
from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with a university degree reside in
Canada and the USA, whilst 87 per cent of those with less than secondary education are
in Europe (Carrera et al. 2014: 1). The EU is thus less-well equipped to attract the best
talents from these countries.
Ongoing research for the recently started EURA-NET project picks up on the leitmotiv of
the global competition for talent and documents the rising incidence of Asian countries
in this global market, alongside the knowledge ‘super-powers’ of North America and
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Europe. Asian countries increasingly attract talent – highly skilled migrants and students
– from Europe; China, in particular, is growing fast as a destination for overseas study for
European students. Much circulation of highly skilled workers also occurs, in particular
of Chinese and Indian high-tech professionals (Pitkänen and Korpela 2015), and this
trend in skilled flows needs policies in place to ensure legal and social protection for
these migrants.
The limited success of the EU Blue Card
NEUJOBS addresses the wide-ranging issues involved with rethinking the effectiveness
of EU labour migration policies (Carrera et al. 2014). It pays special attention to the Blue
Card Directive for highly qualified third-country nationals. As the European Agenda for
Migration admits (EC 2015: 15), this scheme has had limited success, with only 16,000
blue cards issued in the first two years of its operation. NEUJOBS research pinpoints
the many reasons for the failure of the scheme to ‘take off’. There are 28 different
admissions systems, since Member States individually impose their own regulations
on skilled (and other) incoming workers. There are widely differing practices regarding
the recognition of degrees from outside the EU, so that a qualification deemed valid
for a blue card in one Member State may be rejected by another (Eisele 2013: 25).
Eisele concludes (2013: 34–37) that there is a dire need for an EU-wide scheme for
the consistent recognition of qualifications.
Once the blue-card holder arrives, inconsistencies persist. The validity of the card varies
from 3 to 48 months in different Member States, and variable criteria apply to salary
requirements and the definition of exactly what constitutes ‘highly skilled’, ‘highly
qualified’ or ‘professional experience’. A severe condition of immobility is created by
the 18-month restriction placed by the EU on card-holders’ right to circulate outside
the card-awarding Member State (Groenewold and de Beer 2014: 10–11).
Amongst several NEUJOBS recommendations, a very important one is to treat bluecard migrants and other skilled workers more in line with the EU population as a
whole. This would make it easier to match job vacancies with candidates and enhance
the intra-EU mobility of non-EU nationals legally residing in a Member State, so that
the EU becomes more attractive to skilled migrants, students and researchers from
outside. As Commissioner Malmström emphasises, this requires a higher level of trust
between Member States’ authorities than is currently evident (2014: v).
The core focus of the SEARCH project is on trade, economic reforms and the sharing
of knowledge between the EU and the so-called European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
region. A part of this research project is on skilled or ‘knowledge’ migrants, and allied
policies relating to collaboration in research and higher education. Moreno’s (2013) paper
on the mobility of high-skilled workers within the EU–ENP setting includes a summary
of research into the determinants of skilled workers’ geographical mobility and on the
specific topic of patent-holding inventors’ mobility. The geography of this mobility is
very interesting. High-skilled workers, mainly researchers, scientists and inventors,
are very much targeted at certain regions in North-West Europe, especially in Western
Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark, with a second tier which includes Northern
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France, the Netherlands, North-East Italy, Sweden and Finland. These are the areas
where there was the greatest intensity and positive impact of incoming skilled migrants.
The lowest values were found throughout Eastern Europe and much of Southern Europe.
Contravening this pattern were a few outliers of high returns to skilled migration in
Cyprus and in certain regions in Spain, Slovakia and Bulgaria.
Three keywords define the significance of this research (Moreno 2013: 4–6). The first is
the historical tradition of key knowledge agents being solidly embedded in local networks
which are both rooted in specific regions and geographically mobile in their orientation.
The second keyword is precisely this connectedness to the outside world, in this case the
ENP region, ‘a ring of stable, friendly and prosperous countries around the EU’ (Moreno
2013: 1, quoting Com 393 final, 2003). Thirdly, the EU’s smart specialisation strategy
builds on this combination of embeddedness and connectedness, and aims to capitalise
on strategic human and other resources within a highly competitive environment. In
short, there is a productive synergy between existing networks and the new and ongoing
mobility of the highly skilled and innovators. Those regions which are well-endowed
with knowledge and innovation obtain the highest returns on incoming and circulating
qualified migrants.
2.6 Challenges of measuring irregular migration
Reducing irregular migration is the first of the ‘four pillars’ for better migration
management proposed in the European Agenda on Migration (EC 2015: 7–10).
Addressing the root causes of irregular migration (civil war, persecution, poverty etc.),
tackling smuggling and trafficking operations, and enforcing the EU’s Return Directive19
are nominated as the three policy thrusts to achieve this reduction. How realistic these
policy targets are is difficult to gauge at a time when, in fact, irregular migration into
and within the EU is increasing. Moreover, the general policy drift towards tightening
channels of legal migration and pressing down on asylum recognition may well have
the effect of increasing flows of irregular migrants, given the strength of push-pressures
driving migration and the perceived attractiveness of Europe as a migration destination.
Irregular migrants consist of three main types related to travel, residence and work:
those crossing international borders without the requisite documentation – ‘clandestine entry’ using forged documents or without the required visa etc.;
those remaining in a country beyond the approved duration of their stay – ‘overstayers’; and
those working in a country without the necessary authorisation – such as a work permit – or performing a type of work which is deemed irregular, such as working in the informal economy.
Combining these types produces a multiplicity of different situations. A case of maximum
irregularity would combine all three – a migrant who crosses the border without the
necessary documents, who has no residence status or right to work, and who works
in the informal economy, earning wages ‘off the books’. A much milder case would be
The EU’s Return Directive, approved in 2008 but with many subsequent amendments, aims to
standardise procedures regulating the repatriation of irregular migrants, including failed asylum-seekers. For
key features of the Directive, see Boswell and Geddes (2011: 140–141).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
a migrant who is unable to renew his or her residence permit because of bureaucratic
delays beyond his or her control, but who is otherwise fully authorised to live and work
in the country of destination.
Recognising that migrants can shift their (ir)regular status either strategically or
unwittingly, Ahrens (2013) suggests four ‘semi-legal’ scenarios, based on field research
amongst Nigerians in Spain:
migrants who lose their jobs and therefore become irregular through an inability to renew their residence permit – which requires the migrant to be in employment;
migrants who use their short-term residence permits from Spain to move to other EU countries as ‘tourists’ but who actually take up work there;
migrants with long-term residence permits who move to work in another Schengen country which, however, refuses to issue them with a work permit; and
migrant children who become ‘irregular’ in Spain when they are left in the care of others because their parents have had to move out of Spain to look for work.
Ahrens found that these instances were quite widespread, and closely related to the
severity of the economic crisis in Spain, which put particular hardship on migrants who
lost their jobs.
Faced with irregular migration, states have three main policy options, all of which have
been tried or are ongoing in different European countries (Boswell and Geddes (2011:
Toleration: this may be because the costs of enforcement are too high or because the irregular immigrants perform useful work (casual, flexible, low-
paid etc.). The other side of the coin is the potential for migrants’ exploitation.
Regularisation: this recognises post facto the useful presence of irregular migrants and confers some kind of legal status, although this may be conditional and limited in time; however, there are worries that repeated regularisations lead to a ‘bus stop queue’ whereby irregular migrants continue to enter because they anticipate that another regularisation will come soon.
Expulsion: the most draconian, time-consuming and expensive measure, but one which is consistent with the logic of border controls and ‘migration management’, as well as appeasing public opinion against ‘illegal’ migration.
Given their hidden status, estimates of the scale of irregular migration are highly
approximate. Globally, IOM (2010: 29) has estimated that 10–15 per cent of international
migrants are in an irregular situation. The share of irregular migration is thought to be
particularly high in the southern EU states (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) because
of the history of clandestine entry, ease of overstaying, and ‘hands-off’ approach of the
authorities, at least for most of the time. Southern Europe has also seen a large number
of regularisations since the 1980s, as a result of which nearly 5 million people have had
their status regularised.
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It is worth recalling a recommendation from the FIDUCIA European project, which
emphasises that human beings crossing borders without authorisation are not referred
to as ‘illegals’ but as ‘irregular migrants’ (FIDUCIA 2015). Researchers stress that no
human being is illegal and thereby denied fundamental rights.
Among the most challenging problems are the processes through which people arrive in
the EU and either start off, or drift into, an irregular status.
People smuggling vs trafficking in human beings
As FIDUCIA emphasises, trafficking and smuggling embody different sets of distinctive
features. Both denote illicit, and usually profitable, activities that facilitate migration.
The actions of traffickers typically include coercion, deception and the exploitation of
migrants, while smugglers transport undocumented migrants across borders (Bartram
et al. 2014: 80). Put another way, in the case of trafficking, the good exchanged is
control over a person, therefore trafficking is primarily an offence against a person
or persons. In the case of smuggling, the good exchanged is the illegal entry into a
country, and thus the offence is against a state. On the whole, migrants involved in
smuggling still have agency; much less so the victims of trafficking (Campana et al.
According to the FIDUCIA project’s analysis, trafficking can best be understood as a
three-stage process – recruitment, transportation and exploitation. The last of these
stages usually involves exploitation for sexual or labour purposes but can also involve
forced begging or being forced into other, more overtly criminal activities. More subtle
forms of exploitation can amount to a situation where the trafficked person is duped into
indebtedness and bonded labour from which it is nigh-on impossible to escape (FIDUCIA
2014: 10).
Policies aimed at suppressing trafficking can operate at different levels, even if the
nature of the beast, and the forces shaping it, make it hard to envisage a time and
a situation when it will be completely eradicated. At a macro level, international
cooperation among the countries involved and joint investigation teams are necessary
for the prosecution and conviction of all members of the trafficking network. FIDUCIA
suggests (2014: 94–96) that ethnic communities could play a role, given that many
trafficking networks are ethnically based, but engaging the relevant ethnic community
requires in-depth knowledge about the internal dynamics of the community, otherwise
there could be unintended consequences of alienation and stigmatisation.
For the trafficking of persons for sexual and labour exploitation, another focus is to
concentrate on the demand side of the trafficking equation – the topic of investigation
for the DEMAND-AT European project. Actually, DEMAND-AT recommends avoiding
phrases such as ‘demand for trafficking’ or ‘demand for forced labour’, as trafficking
and forced labour cannot be bought in an open market-place. But the notion of demand
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
is nevertheless useful when it comes to end-users (Cyrus and Vogel 2015) such as
labour agents (‘gangmasters’) and farmer-employers (for casual agricultural work) or
construction firms (for casual building labour). Within these same sectors, measures can
be put in place to lower the barriers and costs to undocumented and trafficked workers
who would report inhuman working conditions, if not directly to the state authorities (for
fear of expulsion) then perhaps to volunteers or NGOs.
Trafficking into the sex trade potentially involves four categories of actor: the traffickers,
the trafficked persons, the pimps and ‘madams’ who control and supervise those
who have been trafficked, and the clients. The first two categories are hard-to-reach
populations who may either have fled the scene and remain in hiding, probably in another
country (the traffickers), or are being kept in conditions of extreme seclusion and minute
supervision (the sex workers). The other two categories are probably better contact
points. Pimps and madams are likely to live in the country into which the migrants have
been trafficked, and access to them should not be too difficult. Clients might be willing
to report situations of extreme exploitation and trafficking to the authorities on two
conditions. First, they should be reassured that they themselves will not be prosecuted
for their actions nor morally stigmatised. Second, they will want to be confident that
the victims of trafficking will be treated fairly and not be penalised (FIDUCIA 2014: 3–5,
8). Criminalising both the sale and the purchase of sexual services may not help in this
situation; it may merely drive the exploitative aspect of this activity further underground.
Interestingly, the only case of trafficking in the sex industry mentioned in Pai’s (2013)
study was discovered thanks to a client voluntarily reporting it to the police (quoted in
Parkin et al. 2013: 21–23).
The EUMARGINS project makes policy recommendations in the context of an irregular
status being an extra layer in the likelihood of discrimination against migrant workers
in the workplace. At a time of economic crisis, young migrant workers are particularly
vulnerable to losing their jobs. They may lose their residence rights if they become
unemployed. Given that migrants in an irregular situation fear contact with the
authorities, there is a major role to be played here by NGOs and voluntary groups, which
can carry out and organise meaningful activities for irregular migrants.
The rights of irregular migrants vary from one Member State to another, but they are
likely to be deprived of one or more of the following: healthcare, language courses,
education and nursery support. This exclusion takes place even if international humanrights legislation recognises their right to access some of these facilities – especially
healthcare (Lysaker et al. 2011: 1–2, 15–17).
2.7 Forced migration, asylum and refugees
At the time of writing (August and September 2015), Europe is facing the biggest
refugee crisis since the end of World War Two. The scale of the exodus is underlined
by figures recently released by the UNHCR: 366,400 have crossed the Mediterranean
during January–August 2015, with 2,800 lives lost in transit over the same period. In
the words of William Lacey Swing, the director of IOM, ‘The spectre of death now haunts
the European continent20’. While the emotional impact of recent events makes it difficult
Quoted in The Guardian, 29 August 2015: 9; the UNHCR figures are from The Observer, 6 September 2015: 1.
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to adopt a dispassionate tone, research can help to gain a better understanding of the
processes and events which are unfolding, and to envisage more effective and humane
policy responses. A first step is to define the main terms.
Right of asylum: key terms
Asylum-seekers are persons who have lodged an application for asylum and whose
claim is under consideration. Asylum is a form of international protection given by a
state to allow people to stay within its territory, usually for reasons of escape from
persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group,
or political opinion. Persons can be protected by the status of refugee under the 1951
Geneva Convention, or granted subsidiary protection, which is specific to national
legislation and may mean a shorter period of support and a regular review of the
status. Asylum can also be granted for humanitarian reasons or, in fewer cases, as
temporary protection.
Despite the wealth of empirical studies and the depth of human experience that forced
migration entails, asylum and refugee studies are relatively little theorised. It emerged
as a distinct field of study only in the 1980s (Kunz 1981; Richmond 1988) and can still
be described as a field in transition, despite its global-scale expression and interest
(Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al. 2014: 3). It is distinct from migration studies, generally framed
by economic and sociological theories. Instead, national disasters, military conflicts and
religious and ethnic persecution are at the core of push factors for refugee flows.
Some asylum-seekers hit the asylum trail anticipating a temporary displacement and a
return sooner or later, when the situation has changed or improved. Others settle down
long-term, become integrated in their country of reception and develop into a diaspora.
Yet others engage in onward migration as an alternative to staying put or returning (van
Liempt 2011). However, for many refugees, the return syndrome is very powerful and
shapes their integration process.
According to Eurostat data (May 2015), 626,000 persons applied for asylum in the EU
in 2014, a 45 per cent increase over the previous year and a 140 per cent increase
over 2010. The 2014 total was the highest since the previous peak of 672,000 in 1992
(when the EU had 15 Member States). Surely the figure will be much higher in the years
to come.
Table 6 shows the 15 main origin countries (including ‘stateless’) of asylum-seekers in
2014 – those with at least 2 per cent of the total. Nearly one in five asylum-seekers
were from Syria, followed at some distance by Afghanistan, Kosovo and Eritrea. The
biggest increase over the previous year was from Ukraine, another source of conflict on
Europe’s eastern border.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Table 6 - Top 15 countries of origin of asylum-seekers in the EU 28, 2014, and percentage
change since 2013
Total number
2014 % of total
% change 2013–14
Other countries
Source: Eurostat Asylum Statistics, May 2015.
Numbers of asylum-seekers were very unbalanced across the EU, even taking population
size into account. In 2014, the main receiving countries (Table 7) were Germany
(203,000), Sweden (81,000), Italy (65,000), France (64,000), Hungary (43,000), the
UK (32,000), Austria (28,000), the Netherlands (25,000) and Belgium (23,000). These
nine Member States accounted for 90 per cent of the total. The largest increases over
previous years (2010 and 2012 for comparison) were posted by Hungary, Bulgaria,
Malta, Italy and Latvia. However, with the exception of Italy, these figures are, to an
extent, misleading, as they are measured from very low base levels. More significant
are the large absolute increases recorded by Austria, Denmark, Sweden and, above all,
Policies and Flows
Table 7 - Asylum applicants to EU 28, 2010–14, and first-instance decisions, 2014
Asylum applicants
% change First-instance decisions
Czech Rep.
Total 2014 % positive
EU total
260,835 336,015 626,710
Source: Eurostat Asylum Statistics, May 2015.
Other data not shown in the tables reveal key characteristics of the demography of
asylum-seekers entering the EU in 2014. More than half (54 per cent) were aged 18–34,
and an additional 26 per cent were minors aged under 18. Hence, with four out of five
aged less than 35, this is a young population. Males were predominant overall (53
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
percent), especially at younger ages (three-quarters of 14–35-year-olds); only at 65+
were females in the majority but this age cohort accounts for less than 1 per cent of
total asylum applicants.
Unaccompanied minors
A particular challenge is posed by the large number of unaccompanied minors –
defined as persons aged below 18 who arrive in a Member State without an adult
responsible for them, or minors who are left in an unaccompanied situation after
having entered the territory of a Member State. They numbered more than 23,000 in
2014, nearly double the figures for the previous two years (12,545 in 2012, 12,730
in 2013). This is a feature of asylum flows which is less present in other migration
flows. Unaccompanied minors are mainly boys: 86 per cent of those arriving in 2014,
compared to a ratio of 54 per cent for accompanied minors. For both sexes, the status
of being an unaccompanied minor renders them particularly vulnerable and exposed
to exploitation.
The youthful age structure of the asylum population, and the likelihood that they will
stay long-term in Europe if they are successful in their asylum applications, should have
a rejuvenating impact on the ageing European population. Their generally higher-thanaverage levels of education would bode positively for their eventual full integration
into education, the labour market and citizenship, provided language and other cultural
barriers can be overcome, and racism and discrimination averted.
According to the latest OECD Policy Debate (2015), current refugee flows are more
diverse in terms of education level, as well as geographical origin and routes of travel,
compared to those of earlier waves of refugees. Data from Statistics Sweden (cited
in OECD 2015: 8) show that more than 40 per cent of Syrian nationals arriving in the
country in 2014 had at least upper-secondary education, compared to 20 per cent of
those coming from Afghanistan and 10 per cent of those from Eritrea. Especially in the
case of Syrian refugees, many have skills in sectors such as healthcare and technical
subjects which are in shortage in the Swedish labour market.
In terms of the integration of those who are granted asylum and remain in Europe,
employment transitions are arguably the most important (see also Chapter 3, sections
3.2 and 3.3). Evidence shows that, particularly amongst highly skilled refugees, this
is the most important pathway along which to start building both material well-being
and a sense of belonging to the host society. Qualified refugees often identify strongly
with their profession and suffer considerable loss of self-esteem if they are not able
to secure employment that matches their skills and prior work experience. However,
making that transition often requires thorough language learning and difficult-toachieve recognition of home-country qualifications, resulting in extensive retraining
and the possibility of non-linear career pathways and de-skilling (Willott and Stevenson
2013). The refugee integration process is not helped by the host societies’ dominant
discourses towards refugees and asylum-seekers which often portray them either as
vulnerable and powerless or as deceitful users of generous benefits, including scarce
Policies and Flows
public housing paid for by local tax-payers (Ludwig 2013; Gately 2015).
The employment transition is also not helped by the fact that most EU Member States
do not provide rights to work whilst asylum applicants are awaiting the decision on
their case. Usually there is a time period after which they may apply for a work permit
and often there are conditions attached to taking up employment. Once asylum has
been granted, they are legally entitled to work. In the meantime, the lengthy delays
in processing asylum applications and any subsequent appeals tend to throw asylumseekers into a limbo which may last for years. Such a state is psychologically damaging,
especially if they are not allowed to work or are held in unsatisfactory reception or
detention centres (Schuster 2011). In Sweden, however, asylum-seekers can look for
work if they have the required papers and permissions; other countries, too, are revising
legislation to allow certain groups of asylum-seekers to more rapidly enter the labour
Table 7 shows that 45 per cent of first-instance asylum decisions (160,080 out of
358,310 applications) resulted in a positive outcome across the EU 28 in 2014. This
includes the granting of full refugee status (89,720 cases), subsidiary protection
(54,845) or authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons (15,515). Six Member
States – Germany (48,000), Sweden (33,000), France (21,000), Italy (21,000), the UK
(14,000) and the Netherlands (13,000) – accounted for 81 per cent of the total of
positive outcomes in 2014. Filtering out those countries with very low numbers, positive
outcomes as a share of all first-time decisions were particularly high in Sweden (77 per
cent), Denmark (68) and the Netherlands (67); they were lowest in Hungary (just 9 per
cent), Greece (16), France (22) and Poland (27).
On the other hand, failed asylum-seekers may go into hiding, become irregular migrants
and not return to their country of origin. Application of the EU Return Directive is patchy
across Europe21. In sum, the different national systems of recognition and bureaucratic
procedures, and the widely varying rates of success for claims across the Member
States, even for the same groups, point to an outcome of inequality and unsustainability
of the currently existing common asylum policy (Toshkov and de Haan 2013: 680). Even
before the current humanitarian crisis, flows, inconsistencies and lack of trust were
evident and posed a far-reaching challenge to EU asylum harmonisation.
The current unsustainable state of affairs should impel the European Commission
to reform EU asylum policy, together with more effective tools to monitor its future
For a rare case-study of the human consequences of the Return Directive, see DeBono et al.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration policies and flows – key policy implications and recommendations
Research tells us that restrictive immigration policies increase the cost of emigration
for migrants. Such policies actually reduce the incidence of return migration, and/
or delay the return event. This suggests, counter-intuitively, that policies to promote
return could start with measures to regularise migrants’ status in Europe.
Research from the MAFE project reveals that migration from Africa to Europe is
basically a migration of skills, but many migrants do not succeed in transferring
their imported skills and qualifications into appropriate-level jobs. EU Member States
should improve, simplify and make more accessible their systems of recognition of
qualifications for third-country nationals.
Migrants who receive at least some of their higher education in Europe are more
likely to enter skilled work than those who arrive from a skilled job or tertiary course
outside the EU. Policies promoting student mobility and exchanges should therefore
be deployed to encourage ‘brain circulation’, including via the swift adoption of a
recast Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals
for the purposes of research, study, pupil exchange, training and internships, voluntary
service and au pairing.
When drafting policies to promote return migration, it may be worth considering that
the average age at return is 45 and that return propensity and effectiveness are
greatest after between 3 and 10 years abroad, according to survey data gathered in
three African countries.
Research has found the Blue Card scheme to be ineffective, especially regarding
differing practices for recognition of qualifications, different admission criteria (e.g.
salary requirements), the non-harmonised temporal validity of the card and the
restrictions to the right to circulate outside the card-awarding Member State. Research
recommends reforming the Blue Card Directive, following the above points, so that it
is implemented in a harmonised manner across the EU territory, especially in light of
the global competition for talent.
Research has found that the criminalisation of migration reinforces negative
stereotypes against migrants and makes them even more vulnerable to exploitation
at the hands of traffickers and other exploiters. At the same time, many aspects of
the law, policies and practices related to the criminalisation of migrants and those
acting in solidarity with them, may have the effect of undermining institutional
legitimacy. Fair and respectful treatment of migrants will on the other hand contribute
to building public trust and thereby increase compliance with the law. Specific policy
recommendations stem from this line of research:
Firewalls should be established between immigration authorities and services
to migrants, to allow third-country nationals and civil-society organisations to report
crimes without fear of being detained and expelled.
The Facilitation Directive should be revised to include an express obligation
for Member States to make an exception to criminal liability for providing humanitarian
assistance to irregular migrants.
Policies and Flows
A meso-level of networks, organisations, agencies and brokers is increasingly
challenging the top-down power exercised by states and supra-national political
entities in migration governance. For a better understanding and management of
migration flows, governments should engage more with such organisations.
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Europe has become a ‘continent of integration’ over the past fifty years, with increasing
ethnic and cultural diversity evident in most, if not all countries (Scholten et al. 2015:
1). In some countries – France, the UK, the Netherlands – this has been a long-standing
process; in others – Italy, Spain, Portugal – it is more recent; in yet others, mainly in
Eastern Europe, it has hardly begun.
The EU’s A European Agenda on Migration makes brief reference to ‘effective integration’
under its priority action area on legal migration. For the current programming period
(2014–20), at least one fifth of European Social Fund resources will be directed to
social inclusion, which includes the integration of migrants, with a particular focus
on refugees and children (EC 2015: 16). More-detailed specifications on EU actions
and policies towards the integration of third-country migrants are provided in three
earlier Commission documents. The foundation statement was A Common Agenda for
Integration (CEC 2005b), which laid out ‘common basic principles’; a later document,
European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (EC 2011b),
responded to changed circumstances and unfulfilled objectives arising from the 2005
communication. The third document, An Open and Secure Europe, set the scene for a
broad range of mobility types, increasing diversity within European societies, and for a
more prescriptive need to ‘attract people with the right skills’ (EC 2014: 222).
The common basic principles (CBPs) set out in the 2005 document were as follows:
Integration is a dynamic two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States.
Integration implies respect for the basic values of the European Union.
Employment is a key part of the integration process and is central to the overall participation of immigrants in the host society.
Basic knowledge of the host society’s language, history and institutions is indispensable for integration.
Education is critical for preparing immigrants, and especially their descendants, to be successful and active participants in society.
Access for immigrants to institutions, as well as to public and private goods and services, on a basis equal to national citizens and in a non-discriminatory way, is a crucial foundation for integration.
Frequent interaction between immigrants and Member-State citizens is a fundamental mechanism for integration.
The practice of diverse cultures and religions is guaranteed and safeguarded, unless these practices conflict with other inviolable European rights or with national law.
The participation of immigrants in the democratic process and in the formulation of integration policies, especially at the local level, supports their integration.
CBPs 1-9 were complemented by two broader principles: integration measures and
policies should be mainstreamed through all other relevant policy portfolios, CBP 10;
Note that these documents and agendas on integration apply to third-country nationals. This
follows from a fundamental and partially flawed assumption that the integration issues of non-EU migrants
are somehow different to those faced by intra-EU movers. Do, say, Romanians or Bulgarians face very
different problems of integration when they migrate compared to, for instance, Turks or Moroccans, or
migrants from Latin America?
and progress towards achieving goals should be regularly evaluated, CBP 11.
Review of the progress of integration six years later, taking on board the experience
of new Member States and the general phenomenon of the increasing diversity of
European societies, enabled the Commission to identify several ongoing and pressing
challenges (EC 2011b: 3):
low levels of employment among migrants, especially migrant women;
rising levels of unemployment and high levels of over-qualification of migrants compared to the jobs they do;
increasing risks of migrants’ social exclusion;
gaps in educational attainment; and
public concerns with the lack of integration of migrants.
Recommendations to overcome these challenges and shortcomings involve a twopronged approach. First there is a stress on the local, bottom-up approach to ‘integration
through participation’, including support for language learning, better migrant insertion
into appropriate-level jobs, more efforts in the educational system to respond to the needs
of pupils with a migrant background, and special measures to address disadvantaged
urban areas with high concentrations of migrant-origin population. Second, countries
of origin should be involved in supporting the integration process in three ways: predeparture preparation for integration; ongoing support to migrants whilst they are in the
EU; and preparing the migrant’s return and re-integration.
The third Commission document mentioned above (EC 2014) gives clearer evidence
of how integration fits in to a broader and ‘smarter’ policy on migration and security.
Integration remains a challenge but one with defined solutions at hand (Gilardoni et al.
2015: 31), and women and children are identified as groups of particular concern.
Europe is a diverse society where integration remains a challenge. To enhance social
cohesion and to reap the full benefits of migration, commitment to effective integration
of migrants in the labour market and in receiving societies should be strengthened.
In these efforts more attention should be paid to gender balance and to address the
important employment gap for migrant women… Vulnerable migrants, in particular
women, young migrants and unaccompanied minors, should receive targeted support
and a ‘best interest of the child’ approach should be applied… Building on previous work
in the field of integration, successful policies should be identified and best practices
disseminated. Further work will be necessary on capacity building and on engaging
with local and regional authorities, which are at the forefront of integration policies (EC
2014: 4).
The twinning of the words ‘open’ and ‘secure’ in the title of this Commission statement
(with the majority of the text devoted to security, the control of external borders and
preventing irregular migration, international crime networks and terrorism) provides
evidence of the duality in migration policy that Martin (1993: 2) called the ‘Grand
Bargain’, whereby active integration measures for those legally resident are paired
with stricter control measures to deter the ‘unwanted’ future migration of third-country
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
3.1 A contested concept
‘Integration’ has become a commonplace term, frequently used in European and national
policy documents and debates. It is widely circulated in politics, social policy and the
media, and is forever cropping up in everyday conversations, particularly when ‘native’
populations talk about ‘immigrants’ or ‘foreigners’. It is generally thought to be a ‘good
thing’ – a desirable process leading to a satisfactory normative outcome, but it carries
a heavy connotation of ‘them’ and ‘us’. In fact, it is a highly contested concept, at least
from a scientific point of view.
Integration is an umbrella term with many inflections: it is both a process and an endpoint. The form and outcome of integration depend on the self-conception of the host
society and of the normative or desired role of immigrants and their descendants in that
society. The United States, Canada and Australia have a self-identity and a collective
historical narrative of ‘being made’ by immigration; Japan, Germany and Greece think
of themselves as ‘ethnic’ nations defined by ‘blood-lines’, whereby immigrants and their
descendants are regarded as outsiders.
Under the umbrella of integration range a spectrum of models, from assimilation (the
traditional social model of the US and France) on the one hand, to multiculturalism
(as in Sweden and Canada) on the other. In Western Europe, especially in the UK, the
Netherlands and Germany, there has been a backlash against multiculturalism following
tragically iconic events like the London bombings (2005) and the murders of Pim
Fortuyn (2002) and Theo van Gogh (2004) in the Netherlands. Meanwhile the French
assimilation philosophy came under scrutiny in the light of the urban riots there in 2005.
The ‘middle road’ of integration, positioned as a strategy mid-way between assimilation
and multiculturalism, therefore gained increased support from many politicians and
social-policy analysts.
Key terms
Assimilation connotes the complete erosion of difference between migrants and the host society, and strongly implies the hegemonic role of the host nation. Within Europe it largely remains out of favour, despite some attempts to rehabilitate the concept (e.g. Brubaker 2001).
Integration still implies a dominant role for the host country, but recognises the distinctiveness of immigrants’ cultural background, which is either tolerated or actively respected. This is the favoured term (over assimilation) in Europe and its normative position as a desired outcome has been reinforced in the light of the critiques of multiculturalism. However, as European societies themselves become more diverse, the question arises: Integration into what? (Penninx and Garcés-Mascareñas 2015a).
Multiculturalism acknowledges, and even celebrates, the reality of cultural difference brought by migrants from various origins, and allows them to practice their cultures, but struggles with the challenges resulting from self-
isolation and thrown up by the conflict between certain cultural values (arranged marriages, FGM, divisive gender roles etc.) and mainstream ‘European’ principles of democracy, gender equality and human rights.
Super-diversity is a new term which has yet to enter the general vocabulary. This neologism reflects the internal variety within most designated ethnic/
migrant labels (such as ‘Caribbean’, ‘Turkish’, ‘South Asian’ etc.), as well as
the globalisation and diversification of migration flows into Europe, especially into major cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome etc., making them ‘super-diverse’ and challenging the models listed above (Vertovec 2007). The evolving super-diversity of European urban societies, whereby the majority national ethnic identity becomes the ‘minority’ numerically, poses challenges and opportunities, notably in the educational, social and cultural policy fields.
How to define integration? Many authors who write about the phenomenon, especially
from a critical perspective, still fail to define it. Here are two definitions, one short
and the other long. Penninx and Garcés-Mascareñas (2015b) offer a useful strippeddown definition: ‘the process of becoming an accepted part of society’. For a more
comprehensive definition, Heckmann (2005: 15) gives the following:
Integration… can be defined as a long-lasting process of inclusion and acceptance of
migrants in the core institutions, relations and statuses of the receiving society. For the
migrants, integration refers to a process of learning a new culture, an acquisition of
rights, access to positions and statuses, a building of personal relations to members of
the receiving society and a formation of feelings of belonging and identification towards
[that] society. Integration is an interactive process between migrants and the receiving
society, in which, however, the receiving society has much more power and prestige.
Satisfactory as a general statement, the above definition lacks specifics. Some of
the more concrete aspects of integration were listed in the ‘common basic principles’
outlined by the EU above. The next section attempts a more systematic ‘unpacking’ of
the concept.
3.2 Multiple dimensions of integration
There are several ways in which integration can be broken down into its constituent
elements of layers, domains or spheres. With the European experience in mind, three
schemes are presented, remembering always that integration is both a process and an
end-point. The first builds on Heckmann’s definition quoted above, and involves four
levels or layers (Heckmann 2005: 13–15).
Structural integration refers to individuals’ and groups’ positioning in terms of their membership of and participation in the core institutions of the host society. These are the labour market and the wider economy, the education and qualification system, housing, health and social welfare, and citizenship and political participation. Many of these dimensions can be measured and the ‘performance’ of different migrant groups in various destination countries assessed.
Cultural integration, also called acculturation, concerns the acquisition and transmission of knowledge about the culture and way of life of the receiving 55
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
country. It has to do with norms, values and behaviours. Language is the most important variable here, as it is the key to so many other channels of integration. In theory, acculturation is a two-way process that changes the host society’s culture as well, which learns new ways of relating to the presence of migrants and draws cultural richness from this interaction.
Interactive integration is the participation and acceptance of immigrants in the sphere of primary social relations and networks of the host society, often conceptualised through the acquisition and building up of various kinds of social capital. Typical indicators of interactive integration are friendship patterns, membership of clubs and organisations and, at a deeper level, romantic partnerships and intermarriage.
Identificational integration develops at a later stage in the integration process and builds on the other three. It represents the stage where the migrant sees her/himself not just as a migrant actor within the host-country social system but as having a real sense of belonging with that collective body – a sense of ‘we-ness’ with the host society and culture.
Three interrelated comments can be made about the above scheme. The first is that
it implies that integration is a linear process along which the immigrant individual or
group moves ‘towards’ the host society. It does not acknowledge that the host society
itself might be diversified and stratified along ethnic, class and other lines. Portes and
Zhou’s (1993) US model of segmented assimilation (relabelled ‘segmented integration’
by Heckmann 2005: 15) takes on board the stratified nature of American society, and the
various socio-cultural and economic endowments of incoming migrant groups. It maps
out three pathways for recently arrived immigrants and their children: assimilation into
the ‘white’ American mainstream (the experience of European migrants in the past);
assimilation into the ethnically and racially diverse ‘underclass’ of unemployment,
poverty, educational failure and criminality (allegedly the experience of some Latino
migrants); and assimilation into a pre-existing ethnic enclave based often on selfemployment and business success (the Korean experience). Portes and Zhou’s model is
heuristically attractive but has been much criticised, both from within the US, where it is
seen as too pessimistic towards certain groups, and from the European side, where its
applicability to the more complex historical and geographical patterning of international
migration has been questioned23.
The second comment, which arises partly from the first, is the simpler point that migrants
arriving in a new country face a double integration challenge: integration into their own
ethnic/migrant community in the host country, which they may rely on for access to
employment, accommodation etc.; and integration within the wider host society. Few
studies consider the interactions between these two avenues of integration. Three
types of interaction may be envisaged: i) that integration into the ethnic community
functions as a bridge or stepping-stone to integration in the wider host society, reflecting
the mediating role of ethnic associations between the individual migrant and the host
society; ii) that there is a zero-sum conflict between the two types of integration, so that
immersion in the ethnic enclave shuts the migrant off from the wider host society; and
iii) that migrants who have good networking and communication skills and abundant
social and cultural capital are well integrated in both the ethnic community and the
See, for example, the various articles in a recent issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies on this theme
(Schneider and Crul 2010).
wider host society.
The third comment, which also grows out of what has just been said, opens up the
ignored dimension of spatial integration. Ethnic enclaves, ‘ghettos’ or simple residential
concentrations of immigrants, usually in certain urban neighbourhoods, bring in an
explicit geographical analysis which has also received attention in some of the EUfunded research reviewed here – see section 3.6.
Heckmann’s framework has been much cited by other researchers; the same can be
said for the indicators of integration framework developed by Ager and Strang (2004)
for policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of refugee integration, but easily
transferable to other migration contexts. These authors propose ten domains organised
in a kind of inverse pyramid of four layers (Figure 1).
Means and markers consist of the four domains of employment, housing, education and health. These domains are ‘markers’ because they are the ‘public face’ of integration, where progress is a clear indication of positive integration outcomes. They are also ‘means’ because success in these areas is mutually reinforcing and helps the wider integration process. They correspond, grosso modo, to Heckmann’s structural integration.
Social connections stress the importance of personal relationships in the integration process and are composed of social bonds, bridges and links. Like Heckmann’s interactive integration, this aspect of the framework draws explicitly on the terminology of social capital (Woolcock 1998). In synthesis, social bonds are connections within the ethnic, migrant or refugee community, social bridges are relations developed with the mainstream host society and with other communities, and social links are the evolving connections with institutions, such as local and central government services, NGOs etc.
Facilitators, intrinsic to the process of integration, are two in number. Language and cultural knowledge approximate Heckmann’s cultural integration category. Language is identified by Ager and Strang (2004: 4) as ‘principal among [integration] competencies’ and is combined with broader cultural knowledge, reflecting the principle that ‘to know a language is to know a culture’. Secondly, safety and stability relate to fear of crime and experiences of racial harassment and discrimination, and to fostering a sense of continuity and permanence, seen as important in developing relationships with people and institutions in the host society.
Foundation: the domain of rights and citizenship represents the legal and human rights platform on which all other domains are based.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Figure 1 - Indicators of integration framework
Source: Ager and Strang (2004: 3).
For each of the ten domains, several indicators – up to ten, but with two ‘core’ indicators
for each domain – are proposed as useful for measuring integration (see Ager and
Strang 2004: 14–23 for details). One example: for the domain of employment, the two
core indicators are employment/unemployment rates and average annual earnings. The
figures for the migrant or refugee group are compared to those of the overall national
The third framework proposed is an attempt to link and simplify the frameworks of Ager
and Strang (2004) and Heckmann (2005) and make them applicable to the outputs of
EU-funded research that deals with migrant integration. The result is a list of spheres of
integration which correspond to the sections in the remainder of this chapter:
Economic integration: this ranges from the macro-economic and fiscal contribution of migrants to the European economy to the labour-market participation of various groups, including labour-market exclusion and discrimination.
Social and cultural integration combines a number of domains in the two frameworks presented above. It includes relations of social inclusion/exclusion with the host society, participation in clubs and associations, and cultural and religious issues, including language, identity and belonging. For better or worse, much research attention has been paid to the issue of Muslim migrants.
Educational integration: recognising that integration is a long-term and potentially cross-generational process, it is also necessary to take the long view and look at the performance of migrants’ children in the host country’s educational system. Their results and experience in school and higher education will have a strong impact on their socio-occupational mobility beyond that achieved by their parents. Research also examines Integration
how the host country’s educational system adapts to the realities of an increasingly diverse pupil population.
Spatial dimensions of integration are often overlooked in the mainstream social-science literature on integration. A spatial analysis is an important dimension which cuts across and synthesises economic, social, cultural and political domains and looks at interrelationships, especially at the urban neighbourhood level. Another key spatial question concerns whether ethnic/
migrant residential patterns are segregated or dispersed, and how this changes over time.
Political and citizenship integration comprises a wide range of integration parameters, amongst which are political rights and activities in both the country of origin and that of residence, access to various citizenship rights, possibilities for dual nationality, and rights to long-term residence and family reunion. Research also recognises key issues around the governance of migration and the way that migration becomes easily politicised.
Cutting across these spheres, domains and levels of integration into the host-society
setting is the realisation that many migrants’ lives are lived transnationally: they are
situated within both the ‘new’ society of the destination country and the ‘old’ society
of the origin country, to which migrants may well plan to return sooner or later. This
throws up an obvious tension, which Erdal and Oeppen (2013) describe as a ‘balancing
act’, between economic, social, political and emotional links to the host society and the
homeland community. The implications of transnational living for integration will be
considered in the final part of the chapter.
3.3 Economic integration: labour-market incorporation and fiscal
Employment provides the major source of income for most migrants, especially labour
migrants, for whom it is their very raison d’être. Therefore integration into the labour
market of the receiving country often represents the foundation of the wider integration
process, which involves finding housing, making social contacts, learning the language
and feeling (to some extent at least) ‘at home’ in the destination country. Several FP7
projects address issues relating to the labour market and other aspects of economic
integration. These include NEUJOBS, which investigates current and future trends in the
European labour market, SEARCH, which looks at the economic and social integration of
migrant workers from the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, EUMARGINS,
which studies young adults with immigrant background, including their labour market
experiences, TRANS-NET, which looks at migrant economic, social and political
transnationalism in selected transnational spaces, MAFE, where there is a particular
focus on African migrants and their work experiences in Europe, and several NORFACE
outputs, especially those which make an explicit economic analysis of immigration’s
effects and consequences.
Across the ideological spectrum, from neoclassical economists to Marxist sociologists
and many scholars in between, there is broad agreement that migrant workers have
made a fundamental contribution to European development. This holds true from the
era of post-war reconstruction and industrial expansion to the present day, when Europe
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
is dominated by service economies and preoccupied by demographic stagnation and an
ageing population24. As stated by migration economist Zimmerman, director of the IZA
(Institute for the Study of Labor) in Bonn:
It is labour migration – and decidedly not welfare migration – that dominates the
current economic reality. Migration also supports economic equality because migrants
do not depress wages – nor do they take jobs away, rather, they foster employment and
make natives more productive… It is a virtue, and not some kind of horror prospect, that
a much higher level of permanent and circular migration is likely to occur… Generally
speaking, people who migrate guided by economic conditions are dynamic and eager to
work… It is therefore not too much labour migration, but too little mobility of workers
that has been at the core of the European migration challenge (Zimmerman 2014: 4, 6).
Further investigation of Zimmerman’s argument reveals that he is mainly concerned
to promote intra-European labour mobility and that ‘the key to it all is to focus on the
migration of the highly skilled’ (2014: 6). It is less clear how the ‘let it rip’ philosophy of
maximising mobility applies to the world as a whole and to all types of skill level.
On a global scale, an interesting quantitative analysis carried out by Sanderson
(2013) on the relationship between immigration and economic development reveals
a positive correlation. Based on data for 122 countries over the period 1965–2005,
with GDP changes time-lagged at 10 years after the migration periods (overlapping
10-year intervals), the results show that cumulative migration flows significantly raise
living standards in the receiving country in the long term. However, Sanderson also
demonstrates that immigration is markedly less beneficial in the context of higher
fertility in the destination countries; thereby, by implication, it is additionally favourable
in Europe, where fertility rates are at historically low levels.
Another macroeconomic issue – often the subject of fierce and politically mediated
controversy, especially at a time of economic crisis when there has been a sharp
deterioration in the fiscal balance of most countries – concerns the alleged ‘fiscal
burden’ of migration. Put simply, do immigrants cost the exchequer of the host country
more than they contribute in taxes? There are two short answers to this question: on the
whole no, and it all depends.
Writing the Foreword to a major study of labour immigration policies under the NEUJOBS
research programme, former EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström (2014:
iii) summed up the prevailing orthodoxy:
…contrary to widespread perception, most empirical studies have shown that the fiscal
impact of migrants – the ‘burden’ of migrants on the host state’s public finances and
social security system – is negligible; i.e. neither significantly positive or negative, and in
most cases it is positive when it relates to labour migrants, particularly if they are highly
educated or highly skilled.
In saying this, Commissioner Malmström is echoing, in just a few lines, the findings of
See Castles and Kosack (1973), Piore (1979) and Böhning (1984) for the earlier period, and Bartram (2005), Zimmerman (2005), Zimmerman et al. (2007), Kahanec and Zimmerman (2010) and Carrera et
al. (2014) for a sample of more-recent studies.
a major research review conducted by the OECD (2013: 125–189). Amongst the key
variables which account for the different outcomes are, firstly, the type of migration
(labour migrants are more fiscally beneficial to the hosting economy than familyreunion migrants) and, secondly, the age and demographic structure of the immigrant
population (hence older migrants and migrant families with many children are more of
a drain on the welfare budget than single workers or childless couples).
The OECD’s analysis shows that, for most European countries, the net fiscal impact of
immigration is within plus or minus 1 per cent of GDP; it is somewhat higher, around
2 per cent on the positive balance, in Switzerland and Luxembourg (OECD 2013: 128,
145). Built into this calculation is that, in actuality, many migrants are marginal players:
their low incomes mean that they pay relatively little tax and, as workers, they have low
welfare demands.
Other analysts are more outspoken, particularly when they refer to specific national
contexts. Zimmerman (2014: 8) is at pains to explode the myth that migrants come
to Europe mainly to use the ‘welfare hammock’ – a stereotype that persists in the
repeated use of terms like ‘benefit tourists’ and ‘immigrant scroungers’, widespread in
right-wing political and media circles in many EU Member States. Zimmermann quotes
studies which demonstrate that the generosity of welfare payments has no substantial
impact on migration decisions in Europe (Barrett et al. 2012; Giulietti et al. 2013). For
Germany, Bonin et al. (2008) show that recent immigrants’ contribution to taxes and
social security exceeds the state’s per capita expenditure on the same group by 2,000
euros annually.
Impact of EU labour mobility in the UK
For the UK, another major migrant-receiving country, a long series of publications by
Dustmann and his colleagues demonstrates the net contribution made by migrants
to the national economy. Two examples are cited here – Dustmann et al. (2009) and
Dustmann and Frattini (2014). Focusing first on ‘A8’ EU citizens moving to the UK
(those arriving from the Eastern and Central European accession countries which
joined the EU in 2004), Dustmann et al. (2009) found that A8 citizens were 60 per
cent less likely than UK natives to be receiving state benefits or tax credits and 58
per cent less likely to live in social housing. These figures do, however, drop to 13 and
28 per cent respectively if the migrants’ demographic characteristics are matched to
those of the host population25. In 2008–09, A8 nationals represented 0.91 per cent
of the UK population, contributed 0.96 per cent of total tax receipts and accounted
for 0.60 per cent of total social-welfare expenditure.
The second study provoked a considerable media debate in the run-up to the May
2015 UK election. Immigrants from the European Economic Area, and especially
post-2004 arrivals from the ten accession countries, were found to be significant
That is to say, if the A8-citizen population were ‘normalised’ to conform to the UK native-born by
adjusting the numbers to remove the skewing effect of younger age and higher education. Male A8 citizens
had an average age 12 years lower than the UK native-born men (26 vs 38); for women, the difference was
15 years (25 vs 40). A8 citizens were more than twice as likely to have tertiary-level education compared to
the UK native-born. Figures refer to pooled average data for successive waves of the Labour Force Survey,
2004–2009 (Dustmann et al. 2009: 7–8, 23).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
contributors to the UK economy. This was because of their younger age, high rates
of economic activity and low claims on welfare. Between 2001 and 2011, the net
fiscal contribution of immigrants was £25 billion, made up of three segments: £5bn
from A10 countries, £15bn from immigrants from the rest of the EEA and £5bn from
immigrants from outside the EEA (Dustmann and Frattini 2014: F595).
Positive net fiscal contribution was confirmed by another study, focusing on the
impact of mobility of citizens from the central and eastern European Member States,
which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU10). The study investigated the take up
of benefits and some services in 9 key host countries, including the UK. For example,
some estimates on health expenditure by nationality groups in the UK are presented
in the report. According to these estimates £1.9 billion (€2.6 billion) was spent on
EU10 citizens in the UK in 2012/2013, which accounted for 1.4% of total public
healthcare expenditure. This is lower than the proportion of EU10 citizens in the UK
population, which is 2.1%. The study also found that if all benefits are considered
(including state pension) the take-up rate of EU10 citizens is lower than that of the
native population (Eurofound, 2015).
Two circumstances challenge the optimistic scenarios evident in the work led by
Dustmann and Zimmerman outlined above. One of these is time-dependent, the other
The fiscal pay-off of labour migration stays positive as long as the migrant working
population remains economically active and healthy: ill-health and retirement bring
higher welfare costs. Changed economic circumstances, such as those produced by
a financial crisis or a period of major economic restructuring, are also very likely to
increase immigrants’ claims on the welfare budget26. This effect was dramatically
illustrated by the experience of West Germany during 1960–90, the period which
spanned the guestworker boom and the subsequent recessions of the mid-1970s and
1980s, leading up to German unification. Three graphs presented by Ulrich (1994: 78,
82, 86) are remarkable for the clarity with which they demonstrate the sudden switch
from immigrants’ net positive to net negative incidence on the national welfare budget.
The second circumstance where immigrants carry a heavier fiscal burden is found
in countries with extensive welfare systems and a strong commitment to accepting
refugee families. These are principally the Nordic countries, where recent evidence from
NORFACE research suggests that, at least for a time, immigrants are a net drain on the
welfare budget (see e.g. Sarvimäki 2011; also evidence in OECD 2013).
Turning now to the more-detailed scale of migrants’ experiences in the European labour
market, there is an abundance of evidence, both statistical and based on field surveys.
Table 8 shows the sectoral distribution of the employment of foreign-born workers
in the main labour-migrant receiving countries, the EU 15. Some clear patterns are
Whether immigrants’ claims on the welfare state increase more than those of natives during a
crisis or a dip in the business cycle depends on other circumstances. To the extent that migrant workers are
concentrated in sectors such as construction and industries, where redundancies are also large in scale in
times of recession, there is the expectation that immigrant unemployment will rise faster than that of native
workers, who are also likely to enjoy more secure contracts. On this basis, immigrants’ fiscal position is likely
to vary more strongly with the business cycle. On the other hand, immigrants may be partially excluded
from receiving benefits because of their migrant status and participation in the informal economy, or they
may simply return-migrate; in which case their fiscal impact will be less (OECD 2013: 129).
evident: the high reliance of the Southern European countries of Greece, Italy and Spain
on foreign workers in agriculture, construction, tourism and private households (for
domestic and care labour), the continued reliance of the ‘old’ immigration countries,
notably Germany, on migrant workers in industry, and the higher share of foreign
workers in education and health in another set of countries – Denmark, Finland, Sweden
and the UK. Direct survey work, based on interviews and other qualitative methods,
gives deeper insights into several critical issues concerning the working experience of
immigrants in Europe, including discrimination, wage differentials, skills mismatch and
vulnerability to unemployment, particularly at times of economic crisis.
Source: OECD (2013: 119) based on Labour Force Survey.
and energy
Agriculture and
and retail
Hotels and
Table 8 - Foreign-born workers by sector of employment, 2012
Other services
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
EUMARGINS research, based on comparative studies in seven countries (Estonia, Italy,
France, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK), focuses on young adults who are, or whose
parents were, immigrants. Both demographics suffer labour-market discrimination,
especially if they are so-called visible minorities. Obstacles for first-generation immigrant
youth include the language barrier, the lack of social networks and the non-portability
of human capital and qualifications. These barriers are attenuated, but not entirely
eliminated, for the second generation; the ‘ethnic penalty’ remains. Unemployment rates
are higher for the first- and second-generation migrant-origin groups when compared to
rates for young native workers27. The two main arenas of discrimination reported were
when looking for work, and discrimination at work28. In Sweden, despite the country’s
long experience of anti-discrimination policies, a common perception is that policies
have limited impact ‘on the ground’ (Kallas et al. 2010: 9, 12).
The same study finds that discrimination is often higher in the stronger competition for
higher-level jobs, whilst exploitation is likely to be more severe when migrants work in
the informal sector and/or are in an irregular situation (Kallas et al. 2010: 4; Lysaker
et al. 2011). EUMARGINS researchers recommend that governments need to improve
the monitoring of discrimination by employers through annual surveys and field visits;
immigrant organisations and NGOs should also be involved, to provide specific evidence
and to act as whistle-blowers (Kallas et al. 2010: 13).
Discrimination and skills mismatch were also found to be widespread in three other FP7
research projects. MAFE’s research on African migrants from Ghana, Senegal and the
Democratic Republic of Congo in six EU countries (the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium,
France, Spain and Italy) explores their labour-market profiles by skill/education level and
by gender, as well as by origin–destination path. The general picture reflects a mismatch
between the skills and qualifications held and the jobs acquired. Mismatch is associated
with a lack of recognition and poor transferability of skills and professional experience
into some European countries. Spain and Italy attract more low-skilled workers to do
manual labour in agriculture, construction and factory workshops. Migrants who also
studied in Europe were the most likely to be able to access higher-level jobs reflecting
their qualifications. Without this entry-route, high- and intermediate-level workers
experienced a drastic professional downgrading upon entry into Europe. Migrant women
experienced the greatest barriers to entry and progression in the labour market, and
were significantly more likely to remain economically inactive (MAFE 2013d).
SEARCH also highlighted important issues with regard to skills and qualifications
mismatch between EU receiving countries and both high- and low-skilled migrants
coming from the ENP region29. Key results include the persistence of wage gaps between
migrants and native workers30, higher underemployment rates amongst immigrant
workers, especially during the financial crisis, and the greater economic vulnerability of
Unemployment rates (in percentages) for 20–29 year-olds who were, respectively, natives, firstgeneration immigrants and immigrant descendants, were as follows: France 13, 23, 21; the UK 8, 12, 12 and
Norway 3, 8, 4 (Kalles et al. 2010: 4).
Note that this is self-reported discrimination, which may be different from ‘real’ discrimination.
The ENP region divides into two tiers – the Eastern tier (the post-Soviet successor states of
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), and the Southern flank (North Africa from Morocco
across to Egypt, plus Lebanon, Syria and Jordan).
These wage-gaps are less, and reduce more over time, especially for medium-skilled workers in
host countries with favourable migration-oriented policies (Matano and Ramos 2013a: 3–4).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
migrants to periods of unemployment due to their lack of savings cushions and lower
rights to unemployment benefits (Matano and Ramos 2013a).
In those countries where data were available, Eurofound’s recent research focusing on
intra-EU mobility also showed a high level of skills mismatch. For example in Denmark,
the data from 2007 show that the skills of Danes are a better match for the jobs they
occupy than those of EU10 citizens in the country. Of all Danes who have a bachelor’s
degree, 11% work in elementary occupations, compared to 47% of EU10 mobile
citizens with a similar degree. Of Danes with a Master’s degree, 8% work in elementary
occupations, whereas the figure for EU10 citizens is 33% (Eurofound, 2015).
The focus of TRANS-NET is the complex and multi-level process of migrant
transnationalism which takes place across four selected bilateral transnational spaces –
Estonia–Finland, the UK–India, Morocco–France and Turkey–Germany. In each case, the
relationship is asymmetrical between a less-advanced, economically dependent country
on the one hand, and a migrant-receiving EU country on the other. Drawing on 800
life-course interviews across the eight countries, evidence of discrimination and power
imbalance was widespread (TRANS-NET 2011: 11–12). For instance, many Moroccans
in France felt that their nationality was a source of discrimination when applying for
jobs. Estonians working in Finland also reported discrimination and their difficulty of
integrating into the Finnish work culture of obeying orders, punctuality and discipline.
The Turkish migration experience in Germany is of long standing: following the lowskill guestworker migrations of the 1960s and early 1970s, there are now more highly
skilled Turks in Germany, and others who have converted into running small businesses.
Nevertheless, other studies reveal the limited prospects for upward mobility among
more-recent immigrants in Germany from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states
(Granato 2014).Most of the research projects cited in this section demonstrate that
there is an urgent need for workplace discrimination and the issue of ‘ethnic inequality’
to be acknowledged as a major priority for European governments, if they are to take
their policy of migrant integration seriously. Responding to the policy challenges of
labour migration is necessary on three grounds – economic, social and moral (Zeigers
de Beijl 2000). Employers who discriminate fail to make full use of the human
resources available to them. Moreover, a diverse workforce with a large pool of skills
and experience is likely to be more creative and open to new ideas than a homogenous
one. The social aspect rests on the danger that discrimination and alienation in the
workforce may spill over into the wider society, causing a loss of social cohesion. Finally,
the moral imperative reflects the unacceptable violation of human rights based on the
principle of equality.
Undoubtedly, labour migration has been one of the most difficult policy areas to
harmonise at European level, given that immigration remains primarily the responsibility
of Member States. The EU should continue working towards better policies that ensure
non-discrimination and equality principles for all groups of legal migrants from third
countries. Challenges remain, firstly in the distinction between highly skilled workers
who have the ‘Blue Card’ status and lower-skilled workers; secondly, the distinction
between all migrant workers versus the family members of EU citizens, who stand out
as the most privileged group in terms of the rights of third-country nationals residing
in the EU (Cholewinski 2014: 25–26). Important research has also been conducted by
OECD expert groups on migration, mapping out the policy requirements and options and
drawing up concrete lists of suggestions (OECD 2013: 191–230; 2014: 35–231). Some
of these will be picked up in Chapter 5, the concluding chapter.
3.4 Challenges of social and cultural integration
Going back to the Commission’s common basic principles (CBPs) set out in the
introduction to this chapter, several CBPs can be seen as germane to this integration
heading: knowledge of the language and culture of the host society, complemented by
frequent social interaction with members of the local population, recognising at the
same time that social and cultural integration is a two-way process and that the host
society itself, in many EU countries, has been characterised by multiculturalism and high
levels of ethnic and cultural diversity.
It also needs to be stressed that integration, being a multi-faceted process, can proceed
in a very patchy and fragmented way. Twenty years ago, Castles (1995) proposed a
model of differential exclusion which was highly relevant to countries like Germany and
Switzerland, which were happy to ‘integrate’ migrant workers into their labour markets
(albeit subject to certain controls) yet not accord them anything like full citizenship or
political rights. The differential integration model is still applicable in Germany, Austria
and Switzerland, even if these countries have become somewhat more ‘pro’ integration
in the intervening years. It also seems to be the most appropriate way to describe
the stance of Italy and Spain, where a laissez faire ‘non-policy’ has led to a patchy
integration outcome31.
The notion of differential in/exclusion is the central theoretical starting-point of
EUMARGINS, whose project overview defines ‘social exclusion and inclusion in an
actor-centred perspective without losing a broader systematic understanding of social
relations and contextual factors in a given society’. Hence, ‘An individual can be included
and excluded on different arenas and… inclusion and exclusion can change over time’
(Lysaker et al. 2011: 2).
EU-funded research contributes significant insights into the many issues confronting
and facilitating the social and cultural integration of migrants in Europe, as well as
the ‘downstream’ effects of social integration within a diverse cultural setting. The
challenges of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in Europe, in a context of ongoing
migration and the quest for tolerance and social cohesion, is the theme of ACCEPT
PLURALISM, whose various outputs will be referred to in this and the next section of
this chapter. The key question posed by this project is the extent to which cultural and
religious diversity can be accommodated within liberal and secular democracies. This
question has great poignancy in the light of events over the past decade or so, starting
with the terrorist attacks in New York (2001), Madrid (2004) and London (2005), the
dramatic events of slaughter inspired by white supremacism in Norway in 2011, and
the rise of far-right politicians and parties which gain political and electoral traction in
Cebolla-Boado and Finotelli (2015) argue for a specific ‘Southern European’ model of integration
outcomes based on the differential exclusion principle. Italy is its paradigmatic case, the result of a policy
of benign neglect of national integration policy, leaving the action to municipalities and NGOs. Within the
Southern European region, Spain leans a little more towards ideals of multiculturalism; Portugal much more
so. Greece remains exclusionary and ethno-nationalist.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
many countries by playing on the electorate’s fear of ‘the immigrant’ and ‘the Muslim’
(Triandafyllidou 2012: 5).
Two other key concepts which resonate through the projects reviewed here are social
capital and cultural diversity. The SEARCH project privileges the study of the role of
social capital in the integration process. As shown by Parts (2013), the relationships
between migration, social capital and social integration are complex and not well
understood; some useful guidelines are as follows. Social capital can be regarded as a
specific characteristic of the social environment. It is built on the trust, norms, values
and behaviours that govern interactions amongst people, and between people and the
networks and institutions in which they are embedded. In short, social capital facilitates
people’s mutual cooperation and ability to ‘get on’.
On the other hand, the ethnic and cultural diversity that is ‘produced’ by migration
poses challenges to the functioning of social capital. Migration ruptures existing social
networks and creates new ones. Alternatively the migration process itself can be driven
by social networks which are rich in social capital, as in the family and friendship
networks of both strong and weak ties that shape chain migration from a particular
local origin to a specific destination and which might, subsequently, lead to the creation
of ‘hometown’ associations. MAFE research showed that, across all the countries of
origin studied, access to family and friendship networks in Europe was a significant
determinant of migration (MAFE 2013b).
Language as a vital tool for integration
As noted earlier, language is a vital channel and component of the integration
process. Therefore, the host country’s encouragement to learn the relevant language
by providing free courses (or, as in Sweden, paying immigrants to attend and giving
them a monetary bonus when they successfully complete them) is crucial. But the
relationship between language acquisition and the social setting is reciprocal. Selfevidently, improving language fluency aids interaction with the host society and
therefore social integration. In the reverse sense, ‘social distance’ – the cognitive
relationship of two cultures that come into contact with each other through the
migration of an individual – is key in creating opportunities or barriers to language
learning. If the social and cultural distance between the immigrant group and the host
society is wide or perceived as unbridgeable, and if there are poor learning conditions
for language development, immigrants may feel that there is no need, or no point,
in learning the target language, and social integration will be blocked (Matano and
Ramos 2013b: 2–3).
Two further lines of analysis are suggested by SEARCH and supported by other research.
The first is that the process of integration is heavily influenced by public attitudes
towards immigrants, and possibly, too, towards specific groups of immigrants. A better
integration of migrants in society requires, as a minimum pre-condition, that public
opinion not be against them. At a national level, sharp contrasts exist within Europe
between the less-welcoming stance of Greece and Italy on the one hand, and Sweden,
which has a generally welcoming stance towards migrants and refugees, on the other.32
Within national populations, individual determinants of these attitudes generally include
age, sex, education, social class, political affiliation, geographical location (i.e. proximity
to immigrants) and personality type (Matano and Ramos 2013b: 2). In a NORFACE paper,
Paas and Halapuu (2012) used European Social Survey data to show that those who
are more tolerant towards immigrants are people with higher education and higher
incomes, who live in urban areas, are themselves ethnic minorities, have lived abroad,
and have positive evaluations of the police and the legal and political systems of their
At a collective level, another set of variables can be shown to affect tolerance towards
immigrants and therefore the macro-scale framework of social integration that they
face. These variables include the political and ideological culture of the host country
and the general view it has of immigration as a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing, the nature and
structure of the economy (does it need migrants, and can they be seen to benefit the
economy?), the number of migrants already in the country, and any special schemes or
policies designed to recruit and favour migrants. This leads to the fundamental premise
of SEARCH: the need for improved communication strategies between all relevant
actors and institutions, including government at various administrative levels, NGOs,
employer and business stakeholder groups and community activists etc. Following the
Commission recommendations cited at the beginning of this chapter, this should enable
the sharing of knowledge about best practices concerning the challenges and successes
of social integration.
The second line of analysis follows directly from what has just been said. To what
extent can a rich and diverse multi-ethnic cultural environment improve the overall
functioning of society? There are two obvious arenas where this question can be
analysed, and which link to other sections of this chapter. First, the workplace and the
successful functioning of businesses – the link here being to economic integration. A
raft of papers produced under the aegis of the NORFACE project MIDI-REDIE (Migrant
Diversity and Regional Disparity in Europe) demonstrates that cultural diversity in the
workplace, neighbourhood or region has a positive effect on overall wages, economic
performance and business creativity. Evidence is drawn from a number of empirical
surveys and datasets across Europe and in specific immigration countries such as the
UK and Germany (Brunow and Brenzel 2012; Longhi 2013; Damelang and Haas 2015;
Sudekum et al. 2014).
The other arena where cultural diversity has a profound impact is the classroom and,
hence, various levels of the education system. The next section (3.5) addresses issues
relating to the integration of the second generation as children and as adults, and
specifically their comparative performance in the education system and the labour
market. Regarding the school as a setting for cultural diversity, insights are drawn from
ACCEPT PLURALISM, where ‘school life’ is one of the two main thematic research contexts,
and where accommodating religious diversity is arguably the biggest challenge33.
Eurobarometer has regular surveys of member-State populations’ attitudes to immigration and
their level of xenophobia. In response to a general statement about non-EU immigration, Sweden had a 72
per cent positive view, whilst Greece and Italy scored 23 and 18 per cent respectively; Latvia, with 16 per
cent, had the lowest score of the EU 28 (see Eurobarometer 82, Autumn 2014).
Much of what follows on this topic is drawn from Maussen and Bader (2012a) and Olsen (2012).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
There are two ideals which underpin this challenge: i) that people should not be
discriminated against because of their religion, and ii) that people should be free from
having religious beliefs imposed on them. In practice, these two ideals often come into
conflict with each other in school contexts, where people with different religious and
philosophical convictions are regularly brought together.
There are three main reasons why schools present such a challenging environment
for the management of cultural and religious diversity. First, nearly all countries have
compulsory education, which means that children will inevitably meet others from
diverse backgrounds. Second, the school setting is one of intense interaction on a
daily basis for several hours per day. And third, the school is an arena where many
stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, principals, school governing boards, state
agencies, churches etc.) may have different views on how the challenges of diversity,
especially religious diversity, should be handled. Power asymmetries exist between
these various stakeholders, and between the different ethnic and religious groups in the
school catchment area, according to their numerical size and the vocality of their views.
The ACCEPT PLURALISM project carried out qualitative case-studies in ten European
countries on how religious diversity is either accommodated or remains an unresolved
issue. Contrasts are drawn between three different outcomes:
the French case, where national rules on the prohibition of conspicuous religious symbols in schools have resulted in a ‘one-way dialogue’ in which the possibility of local negotiation is denied;
the Danish system, where there is much more autonomy given to schools under an interactive ‘voluntary dialogue’ model, the application of which, however, is arbitrary and therefore uneven;
examples from Poland, Romania and Greece, where crucifixes and religious icons in classrooms represent the dominance of Catholic or Orthodox religions and where students and parents of any other, or no, religion have limited rights to challenge the prevailing religious ideology.
In this third case, parents and students have a legal right to be exempt from religion
classes, but are neither encouraged to pursue this right nor even aware that they have
it – an example of what is called ‘pre-tolerance’ (Olsen 2012: 7).
ACCEPT PLURALISM researchers make the following specific policy recommendations: i)
avoid a national one-size-fits-all set of rules and guidelines; ii) introduce as mandatory
a model of dialogue between the schools, parents and students; iii) allow schools the
freedom to accommodate diversity based on local circumstances and experiences
(Olsen 2012: 834).
In the wider remit of social integration in the context of a highly diverse cultural and
religious combination of immigrant and host-society populations, the focus has often
been concentrated on Muslims, reflecting both the specific impacts of the terrorist
attacks in Europe and around the world (in places where European tourists visit), and
A separate set of issues applies to the operation of religious or faith-based schools (Catholic,
Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc.); see Maussen and Bader (2012b) for a compact but effective summary of perspectives from the ACCEPT PLURALISM project.
a more general unease about ‘different’ values regarding gender relations, arranged
marriages, and real or imagined religious dogma.
In Triandafyllidou’s (2012) comprehensive review of the field for ACCEPT PLURALISM,
three groups are analysed which have arguably been the main targets for ‘othering’
across several European countries. These are ‘black’ people, Muslims and Roma. All
three groups, and especially the first two, are extremely internally diverse, with different
histories and statuses in different countries. All three groups have been subjected to
widespread discrimination in the labour market, in education and housing, and in social
life in general. Each also faces specific stigmatisation. Black people and Roma are faced
by biological and cultural racism while Muslims confront religious racism. There is a
tendency to equate Muslims with Islamic fundamentalism, whilst both Roma and ‘black’
people face ethnic prejudice associated with their alleged tendencies to engage in petty
or organised criminality (Triandafyllidou 2012: 18–19).
EU countries’ different histories of integration
As far as the countries of residence are concerned, marked differences exist between
three groups of European countries (Triandafyllidou 2012: 16–18).
‘Old’ host countries, such as Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden: these countries have small ‘native’ minorities but long histories of immigration from a variety of source countries, and therefore a long experience of social integration and either officially recognised and encouraged or de facto multicultural societies. Religion is not a strong part of national identity in these countries. Most (less so Germany) have upheld rather generous naturalisation policies. However, it is also possible to note a retreat from multiculturalism and a ‘neo-assimilationist’ trend, with civic integration tests introduced in many of these countries.
‘New’ host countries, such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Ireland: these were countries of large-scale emigration until the late 1960s, but then became destination countries from the early 1990s. Integration policies are little developed and there is less recognition of religious and cultural diversity, since Catholicism and the Orthodox Church form an important part of national identity. Strong regional identities in Italy and Spain create centrifugal tendencies away from the solid, ethnically defined national identities in Greece and Ireland. Roma minorities in Spain, Italy and Greece, and Travellers in Ireland, are among the most harshly discriminated against and socio-economically disadvantaged minorities in Europe.
‘Transition’ countries: these are the ten Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 and have a history of communist administration and integration of their native minorities – Roma and other ethno-linguistic minorities. Marginalisation and discrimination, especially of and against the Roma, have increased in the post-communist era. On the whole, these countries have witnessed net migration outflows in the last 25 years, so the integration of immigrants has not been an issue. Yet some of them express nationalistic and xenophobic tendencies and so are not open to cultural and ethnic diversity.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Across all countries surveyed, the key area of policy intervention is identified as
education, so that tolerant and respectful attitudes and behaviours towards diversity
are fostered for the future (Triandafyllidou 2012: 19).
A final point of relevance to social and cultural integration is that it assumes long-term
or permanent settlement of the migrant population in the host country. But, as we have
seen (section 2.3), there has been an increasing trend towards temporary and circular
migration. Hence, investing heavily in the acquisition of host-country-specific human
and cultural capital (such as language training and civic integration classes) could be
seen as a waste of resources that could be better spent for other purposes. The issue
of ‘temporary integration’ for short-term migrants remains largely unresolved (Crespo
Cuaresma et al. 2015).
3.5 Integration pathways of the post-migration generations
Education is vital for integration, particularly of migrants who arrive at a young age
and the ‘post-migration’ generations – mainly the ‘second generation’ who are born in a
European host country to immigrant parents. As noted in section 3.3, immigrants tend
either to ‘down-skill’ to positions which are below their formal educational qualifications,
or to have low levels of education anyway; for their children, education is a way to attain
a better socio-occupational status than their parents35.
Comparative studies of second-generation and ethnic-minority children’s performance
in the school system and then in the labour market are often measured again three
reference groups: their parents’ generation, to chart mobility across the generations,
their host-country peers of the same age, and other minority groups in the same
host country. Or the same migrant-origin group can be compared across two or more
destination countries.
The most significant and largest-scale project in this area is TIES – The Integration of
the European Second Generation. TIES involved survey research across eight European
host countries – Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden
and Switzerland. Based on structured interviews to the now-adult second-generation36
children (aged 18–35) of immigrants from Morocco, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia,
it tracked their trajectories in education, the labour market, family formation, social
relations, religion and identity.
A digest of findings from the main book of the project (Crul et al. 2012) includes the
following points:
This is the standard definition of the term ‘second generation’, which can also include children
born in the migrant-origin country and brought to the destination country by their parents at an early (e.g.
pre-school) age. The term is widely used in the American and European literature but is less popular in the
UK, where a longer history of immigration means that the ‘cohort effect’ of first, second, third etc. generations is replaced by the more general terms ‘ethnic minority’ or ‘migrant heritage’ without reference to
generational genealogy.
TIES was not an FP7 project, but it had partial European funding through its link with the FP6
IMISCOE Network of Excellence on ‘International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe’ and a
TIES Marie Curie Research Training Network.
Most of the second-generation respondents from the three origin groups have achieved a stable labour-market position above the level occupied by their parents. This upward mobility into the mainstream working and middle classes accounts for between half and two-thirds of those surveyed, depending on particular combinations of origin and destination countries.
On the other hand, a sizeable minority – up to a third in some cases (notably Turks in Germany) – occupies a rather marginal social position. They are either unemployed or stuck in low-skilled and insecure jobs, and approximate to Portes and Zhou’s (1993) notion of ‘downward assimilation’.
Host-country and city contexts are more important in ‘explaining’ differences in outcome than the national parental origins of the second generation. The key structuring parameters are the education system, integration policies and other relevant institutions in the host country.
State-supported systems of child-care and early compulsory attendance at nursery and primary school generate long-term benefits in educational performance. Where school systems work against lower-class and disadvantaged pupils, they are even more damaging for the children of immigrants. On the other hand, when systems offer extra support and opportunities, the migrant second generation profits more from these facilities than native-parentage children.
Religion plays a key difference between young people of migrant parentage and their same-age peers of native descent. Very few amongst the second generation are agnostic or atheist. Most second-generation Muslims adhere to a modern form of Islam which separates state from religion.
The second generation identifies strongly with the city they live in, or expresses various kinds of dual, in-between or multiple identity, rather than holding to a single national identity.
Access to higher education as an indicator of integration
One revealing indicator of second-generation ‘progress’ is the share of pupils who go
on to higher education (i.e. leading to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree). Crul (2013)
performs this analysis for the Turkish second generation across six host countries –
Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. There are substantial
differences, ranging from 5 per cent in Germany and 15 per cent in Austria to 37
per cent in France and 32 per cent in Sweden, with Belgium (18 per cent) and the
Netherlands (27 per cent) occupying intermediate positions.
These remarkable differences amongst children born to ‘uniform’ working-class
migrant parents relate to how national education systems function and accommodate
(or not) the needs of second-generation children. The key factors are school/nursery
starting age and the degree of ‘openness’ or early-age ‘streaming’ of pupils that
occurs. Different national school systems also demand different amounts of parental
These factors work together in a negative combination in Germany and Austria. These
two countries’ schools stream pupils from an early age, so that nearly all minority-
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
origin children are channelled away from the academic track which leads to higher
education. Opportunities to switch tracks are limited. Moreover, parents are expected
to provide practical support and to monitor children’s homework. Parents are also
responsible for their offspring’s German-language proficiency, which disadvantages
children who do not attend nursery or pre-school.
By contrast, the most favourable context for the Turkish second generation is where
children start early in pre-school, selection takes place only at around age 15 or 16
and rigid tracking is avoided. In this type of school context – akin to the situations in
France and Sweden – children can do well without parental resources.
A particular challenge faces children who are brought into Europe by their parents or
move within the continent when they have already started their school career in their
home country. The older the children, the greater the problems37. Those who arrive in
their teens have been shown to have high drop-out rates across a number of countries
(Cohen-Goldner and Epstein 2014). From the SEARCH project, Di Liberto (2013) finds that
children who immigrate to Italy and go straight into the secondary-school system take
longer, and often fail, to close the gap with native students, compared to children who
arrive in primary-school age. Migrant children with a poor grasp of the Italian language
are often kept back a year, or even two, in primary and secondary school. The impact
of this is to further disadvantage the children throughout their school and subsequent
careers and to compromise their abilities to achieve full integration (Gilardoni et al.
2015: 6938).
EDUMIGROM – Ethnic Differences for Urban Youth in an Enlarged Europe – investigates
the impact of educational systems and settings on second-generation and Roma youth
in nine EU countries – the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania,
Slovakia, Sweden and the UK. Despite these countries’ anti-discrimination policies
and considerable investment in education, Roma youth and young people of migrant
background continue to face diminished opportunities for meaningful participation in
economic, social and political life. EDUMIGROM looks at the decisive impact of ethnic
differences in schooling. Probably because of its focus on Roma children in several
countries not studied by TIES (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) and on
Traveller children in Ireland, its overall conclusion is less positive than the TIES results:
It seems that ethnically differentiated educational practices are crucial determinants of
social inclusion. In Europe’s case, these educational differences are forging inequalities
that challenge the European Union’s fundamental values and chip away at the
foundations of social order… Evidence shows that children of marginalised groups,
especially poor children of poor families of minority ethnic background, are most at risk
of educational exclusion39.
Children who migrate at this age, roughly between 6 and 15, are often referred to as the 1.5
generation, midway between first-generation adult migrants and the host-country-born second generation.
There is a policy implication here. If foreign children’s late arrival is the result of family reunification policies that delay the arrival of children to join their migrant parents, this has to be weighed against
the costs of students’ remedial assistance as well as the psychological cost of prolonged separation and the
extra challenge for students to adapt to a new language, culture and education system at a later age.
EDUMIGROM European Policy Brief, Budapest: Central European University, Centre for Policy Studies, March 2011. For more details on the EDUMIGROM survey and results, see Szalai (2008), Zentai (2009),
A key theme running through EDUMIGROM is segregation in the education system, both
between and within schools. To a large extent, school segregation reflects the social
geography of urban neighbourhoods where migrants settle and bring up their families
(see section 3.6, to follow). But school policies often do little to counter this. EDUMIGROM
research reveals, across many countries, the concentration of poor, ethnic-minority and
immigrant-origin children in schools rated as ‘poor’ by school inspectors. Typically such
‘poor’ schools have at least half (and often a much greater share) of their student
enrolment from minority-ethnic and other disadvantaged backgrounds.
Segregated conditions in education tend to result in ethnic enclosure and isolation,
a reinforcement of a ‘them’ and ‘us’ divide, with few social contacts across this
demarcation line. The EDUMIGROM research does show, however, that, where there is
ethnic diversity amongst the teachers, students from minority backgrounds perform
better scholastically and feel safer.
EDUMIGROM research also reveals the ways in which minority ethnic students face
contradictions between the values, norms and practices imposed on them by the school,
and those found in their family and ethnic community environment. At its worst, this
contradiction can provoke an identity crisis, leading to an early escape from the family,
withdrawal from school, affiliation with gangs and substance abuse.
On the other hand, and despite the difficulties that second-generation and minority
children face at school, most are committed to education, realising that it fundamentally
conditions their future. The children of migrant background, in particular, see their own
improvement and education as the very purpose of their parents’ move, and they wish
to meet those expectations, despite experiences of frustration and alienation.
The evidence of multi-ethnic education in British schools presents a rosier picture.
For many years now, children of most minority-ethnic backgrounds have matched or
outperformed their peers in the native ‘white’ population. The best-performing groups
are those of Indian, Chinese or African background; children (especially boys) of AfroCaribbean and Bangladeshi heritage perform less well.
NORFACE research (Dustmann et al. 2010) on the relationship between pupil ethnicity
and educational achievement in British state schools (i.e. excluding the fee-paying private
sector) shows that, whilst, at the start of school, pupils from most other ethnic groups
substantially lag behind ‘white’ British pupils, these gaps decline throughout compulsory
schooling, i.e. up to age 16. The six ethnic minority groups studied are Black Caribbeans,
Black Africans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Chinese. The Chinese are the only
group which does not lag behind the white British at Key Stage 1 – assessments taken
soon after the start of primary school.
Language is the single most important factor conditioning non-white pupils’ progression
towards the standard of their white peers; poverty, by contrast, does not explain the
catching-up process, although it does correlate with the initial difference40. Dustmann et
Messing (2010).
In this analysis, poverty is proxied by pupils’ eligibility for free school meals. Since this eligibility
rate remains high for most ethnic minority pupils, it does not help to explain the catching up process (Dust-
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
al. (2010: F273) confirm the gender gap (girls progress, boys lag behind) for all ethnicminority groups except Indians and Chinese.
One interesting element picked up by these authors, which has been overlooked in most
other studies, is the combined role of teacher incentives and performance targets related
to school league tables. Dustmann et al. (2010: F274) find some evidence that good
ethnic-minority improvement rates can be partly explained by the need for teachers to
‘teach to the test’ in order to get potentially failing pupils up to scratch and improve
exam results by giving them special attention.
The ‘London effect’
A final issue from the British evidence which is highly revealing and has attracted
recent media attention (e.g. Adams 2014) is the so-called ‘London effect’, whereby
schools in the capital achieve better exam results than the rest of the country. Whilst
the performance-target effect cannot be ignored as a potential explanation, more
relevant is thought to be the vibrant multicultural learning environment that London
schools provide by drawing their students from such a rich mix of ethnic and cultural
backgrounds in ‘super-diverse’ London (cf. Vertovec 2007).
3.6 Spatial dimensions of integration
Although national policies ‘set the scene’, integration is played out primarily at the
local level; indeed local initiatives often seek to compensate for the limitations and
shortcomings of national integration policies (Caneva and Ambrosini 2012). Research
is unanimous in saying that a standardised approach to integration should be avoided,
as diversity is best accommodated at the local level of individual neighbourhoods,
workplaces and schools, based on local circumstances and experiences.
Yet it is remarkable how much of the theoretical discussion around integration takes
place in a ‘space-less’ vacuum. In reality all aspects of migrants’ lives (in fact, the lives
of all people) are embedded in particular places and spaces. Therefore all aspects of
integration – economic, social, cultural, civic participation etc. – intersect, overlap and
are synthesised at a local, spatial level.
The three main spatial frames are related to where people live, where they work or
study, and where they go for leisure and social activities. On the whole, these are likely
to be concentrated in discrete urban neighbourhoods, but not necessarily so. Work may
involve long journeys across town, migrants engaged in agricultural labour are likely to
live in rural areas, and there is always the ‘transnational’ perspective to be kept in mind
(section 3.8).
Given the economically driven nature of most migration in Europe – that people
come principally to find better-paid jobs than are available in their home countries –
mann et al. 2010: F284–F287).
housing and employment are the key variables defining migrants’ spatial distribution.
Continuing a trend that has been continuous throughout the migrations of the past
two centuries (including the transatlantic migrations from Europe to American cities in
the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the mass-scale migrations into
European industrial cities in the 1950s to 1970s), most recent migrants also cluster in
disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods41.
The key factor is their weak position in the housing market, both as potential purchasers
hampered by low incomes (much of their disposable income may be sent home as
remittances) and as recent arrivals with minimal savings to buy or put down as a
deposit. Discriminatory practices by landlords and mortgage lenders further limit
migrants’ ability to gain a foothold in the market, as does the high price of housing in
big cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. In the rental sector, survey data indicate
that migrants are routinely over-charged for accommodation that is often sub-standard
(Gilardoni et al. 2015: 74–75).
Migrants are generally over-represented in social housing, particularly in countries with
strong welfare states like Sweden. Priority in this sector is generally given to immigrant
families and recent refugee arrivals. However, elsewhere migrants can fall down the
pecking order for the limited availability of social housing because of their lack of longterm residence in the area or because they have no family with them.
Of course, other housing circumstances arise as a result of different types of migration.
High-skill migrants and intra-company transferees will be better placed to access goodquality housing (Moreno 2013). At the other end of the spectrum, migrants engaged in
agricultural labour may be confined to sleeping in sheds or caravans located in the fields,
with no facilities or very few42. These exceptions apart, the overall statistical picture
is very clear: throughout Europe, migrants are disproportionately concentrated (often
massively so) in poor urban neighbourhoods, have lower rates of home ownership and
are more likely to live in overcrowded and degraded housing conditions when compared
to the native population (OECD 2012: 59–67). This spatial concentration is the result
primarily of their weak bargaining power on the housing market, and not of a process
of self-segregation, although this is not to say that they do not enjoy some sense of
solidarity in living in the same areas as their co-nationals (Gilardoni et al. 2015: 75).
Neighbourhood integration in six European cities
The main project which emphasises the spatial, urban neighbourhood dimension
of integration is GEITONIES (which means ‘neighbourhood’ in Greek). Based on
questionnaire-based interviews with more than 3,600 respondents (equally divided
between ‘immigrants’ and ‘natives’) in 18 neighbourhoods in six cities (Bilbao, Lisbon,
Rotterdam, Thessaloniki, Vienna and Warsaw), the researchers sought to investigate
issues relating to ethnic diversity, social relations and neighbourhood identification.
Faced with concerns in various European countries about socio-ethnic fragmentation
For a thorough discussion of the many issues surrounding the urban spatial segregation of immigrants in European cities, see Fonseca and Malheiros (2005: 19–63); their review was one of the significant
outputs of the FP6 IMISCOE initiative on international migration and integration in Europe.
See the moving study by Lucht (2012) on African migrant workers living on the margins of the
rural economy in Southern Italy.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
and ‘parallel lives’ lived within segregated urban spaces, the GEITONIES research
privileged the notion of interculturalism over multiculturalism. In other words, what
was important was less the recognition and celebration of specific cultural features
(as in multiculturalism) and more the promotion of dialogue and positive social
interaction between ethnic groups (Fonseca et al. 2013: 8).
In synthesis, the research across the six cities confirmed an overall negative
association between ethnic diversity and neighbourhood attachment. This is in line
with conflict theory (Blalock 1967) which predicts competition and therefore tensions
between different groups living in close proximity to each other. However, the nature
of this relationship varies considerably (Górny and Toruńczyk-Ruiz 2014). For
natives, having inter-ethnic relations with immigrants and people of minority ethnic
background ‘neutralises’ the eroding effect of ethnic diversity on neighbourhood
attachment. These, then, are natives who, in line with contact theory (Pettigrew 1998),
strongly identify with their multicultural neighbourhood through frequent inter-ethnic
relations. But the reverse is the case for immigrants: those who have mono-ethnic
rather than intercultural ties have a stronger attachment to their neighbourhood. In
other words, having no inter-ethnic ties ‘neutralises’ the negative effect of ethnic
diversity on neighbourhood attachment. This is explained by the fact that migrants
who lack inter-ethnic contacts tend to rely on social ties with co-ethnics and are
thereby indifferent to the general level of ethnic diversity in their neighbourhood
Several policy recommendations arise from GEITONIES (Fonseca and McGarrigle
2012). Apart from general recommendations about the importance of equality
and anti-discrimination legislation and support for the structural incorporation of
immigrants and their descendants into the mainstream society, a key point relates to
the intensity of social relations. Casual street encounters do not diminish barriers and
discriminatory attitudes; cross-ethnic interaction has to be more meaningful in order
to be effective in overcoming cultural essentialism. Policies need to be implemented
at multiple levels – EU, national, city and neighbourhood – in order to be effective.
This issue is picked up for further discussion in Chapter 5.
Other European projects are sensitive to the issues endemic to the geographical
concentration of immigrants, even if the projects’ main focus is not on the spatial
dimension. For instance, WWWforEUROPE recommends appropriately scaled regional
strategies for improving integration on the ground and argues, furthermore, for a multilevel governance approach to embedding the realities of ethnic diversity into integration
policy (Crespo Cuaresma et al. 2015: 12). Such a framework should recognise the need
to support those regions that are exposed to particular concentrations of migrants
and where rapid ongoing increases in ethnic diversity are likely to continue. Relevant
initiatives should target housing, employment, school education provision and transport,
and be aware of both the benefits and the challenges of cultural diversity in multi-faith
and multi-lingual contexts (Dohse and Gold 2014).
Other research reviewed deals with issues of segregation in schools. According to
Paasche and Fangen (2011: 2, 13–14), writing on behalf of the EUMARGINS project,
policy-makers should acknowledge that ethnic and socio-economic segregation often
overlap, but remain distinctive and should not be conflated. ‘Ethnic’ school segregation
is actually more to do with social disadvantages and the socio-economic status of
parents living in particular neighbourhoods than it is to do with ethnicity per se. When
tackling the lower educational outcomes of highly ethnically segregated ‘minority’
schools, policy-makers should therefore concentrate on implementing desegregation
policies that reduce socio-economic status inequality whilst, at the same time, focusing
on schools with the highest shares of students of migrant/minority background. Another
strategy suggested by these authors is to divert funding priorities to schools with
high numbers of immigrant-origin pupils in order to make them more attractive to
all parents in the catchment area. Given that population forecasts predict an increase
in ‘non-Western’ migrant-origin children in many deprived urban areas of otherwise
affluent European cities, more targeted research is needed on the complex relationships
between neighbourhood and school segregation issues, and the educational outcomes.
The ways in which local authorities can shape, implement and even contradict nationallevel integration policies is well illustrated by examples drawn from ACCEPT PLURALISM
(Caneva and Ambrosini 2012). In the Netherlands, in 2006, local mayors and city
councillors affiliated to the Green Party by-passed the restrictive national guidelines on
asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, offering them accommodation and other support
facilities, organising demonstrations and writing a manifesto in favour of their social
inclusion. These city authorities argued that people who had lived in the Netherlands for
a long time and become well-integrated, despite their ‘irregular’ status, should not be
expelled for purely administrative and legalistic reasons.
An opposite example comes from Northern Italy, where several local city mayors
belonging to the Lega Nord and other right-wing parties adopted policies towards
immigrants and minorities that were more restrictive than the national ones. Such
policies were introduced under the guise of ‘urban safety’ and of suppressing ‘annoying’
behaviour, and included measures taken against begging, signs in foreign languages
and praying in rooms not designated for that purpose.
3.7 Integration is a political and a politicised process
According to Ager and Strang (2004: 4), rights and citizenship are the foundation
for integration: ‘the base upon which expectations and obligations for the process of
integration are established’. This section addresses two main issues: i) the political and
civic rights of immigrants in Europe; and ii) its flip-side, which is now the ‘big issue’ of
immigration getting politicised.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Table 9 - MIPEX overall scores, 2014
EU 15
EU 13
Czech Rep.
Source: MIPEX (2015).
MIPEX data (Migration Integration Policy Index) set the scene (Tables 9 and 10).
MIPEX measures integration policies in all EU countries (plus Norway, Switzerland,
the USA and Canada). Seven topics, each made up of several contributing variables,
constitute the strands of the index. These are labour-market mobility, family reunion,
education, political participation, long-term residence, access to nationality and antidiscrimination43. It is important to bear in mind that the index, both in its overall score
(Table 9) and its thematic scores (e.g. Table 10 on the theme of political participation),
represents the existence of policies but does not evaluate their application in practice.
According to its authors, ‘MIPEX can be used as a starting point to evaluate how policy
changes can improve integration in practice’ (Huddleston et al. 2011: 7). The index helps
to establish the extent to which all residents are legally entitled to equal rights and
responsibilities. Where scores are low for particular countries on particular dimensions
(e.g. political participation or access to nationality), this demonstrates what countries
should do to create a better legal environment in which migrants can contribute to a
country’s welfare and well-being (Huddleston et al. 2011: 7).
MIPEX is a jointly coordinated initiative of the British Council and the Migration Policy Group, and
is part of a wider project entitled Outcomes for Policy Change, co-financed by the EU Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals.
Table 10 - MIPEX scores for political participation, 2010
EU 15
EU 12
Czech Rep.
Source: Huddleston et al. (2011: 11).
With an average overall score of 51 for the EU 28, the MIPEX measure indicates that
the EU and its constituent states are, on the whole, ambivalent about their policy
commitment to integration – in other words, to encourage all citizens, including legally
resident third-country nationals, to fully participate in economic, social and political
life. Whilst some have argued that the fundamental integration division in Europe is
between the northern and the southern countries (Cebolla-Boado and Finotelli 2015),
Tables 9 and 10 show that the main divide is between pre- and post-2004 Member
Countries, which is more like a north-west to south-east divide. The ‘good’ performance
of Portugal subverts the simple north–south divide, as do those of the low-scoring Baltic
countries of Latvia and Lithuania. For the overall index (Table 9), there is a 19-point
difference between the average scores for the EU15 vs the EU13. This contrast becomes
even more marked when the single theme of political participation is examined (see
Table 10): in this case the difference between the two column averages is 41.
Clearly, immigrants from outside the EU face greater obstacles to integration, especially
in the political sphere, in the newly emerging destination countries of Central and Eastern
Europe (and also Greece, Cyprus and Malta). Here, levels of anti-immigrant sentiment
are high, as also indicated by Eurobarometer surveys44. Immigrants generally benefit
from more-equal rights and opportunities in the wealthier, older and large countries of
immigration – most of the EU15, but not Greece or Austria.
See footnote 34, above.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Huddleston et al. (2011: 18) summarise the general picture for political participation,
commenting on the array of figures in Table 10. ‘Most immigrants have few opportunities
to inform and improve the policies that affect them daily. 11 countries, mostly in Central
Europe, still have laws denying immigrants basic political liberties’. These authors then
go on to describe the archetypal best and worst scenarios for political participation
(2011: 18). The best case is
[w]hen states open political opportunities [and] all residents can participate
in democratic life. Newcomers enjoy the same civil liberties as nationals. An
immigrant can vote and stand in local elections, and enjoy basic political liberties,
just like nationals, after a limited number of years of legal residence. She can
also vote in regional elections. She can be elected and even lead a strong and
independent immigrant consultative body in her community, region, or for the
whole country. The state informs her of her political rights and supports the
emergence of immigrant civil society.
In the worst-case scenario
[a]n immigrant cannot contribute to the political decisions that must affect him
in the city, region, and country where he lives. The state restricts his basic civil
rights. He cannot found a political association, join a party, or work as a journalist.
Only nationals (and … EU nationals) have the chance to vote45. He lives in a
city where government does not even consult with immigrants. The state does
not implement any policies to encourage him to participate in democratic life.
Associations representing his interests cannot count on state funding.
The issue of external voting for EU citizens, i.e. participating in the elections of one's
country of origin while residing in another EU member state, has been a perennial
concern linked to EU mobility. Most EU countries allow external voting for their citizens
who reside abroad, subject to certain conditions. However, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece,
Ireland, Malta and the UK, for instance, either do not permit external voting at all or
impose stringent barriers to doing so, e.g. not providing for the possibility of postal
voting and thereby de facto excluding many of their expat citizens from voting (IDEA
More generally, EU citizens resident in another EU member state can vote and stand as
candidates in local as well as European Parliament elections in their state of residence,
but usually not in national (or general) elections. While some member states have
granted this right, at least in relation to nationals from certain member states and/
or subject to conditions − e.g. Irish citizens resident in the UK − most EU states have
not done so. This renders retention of external voting rights important, for if the right
to participate in one's country of origin is lost due to emigration, the citizen concerned
becomes generally disenfranchised with regard to national elections, with negative
consequences on the substance and quality of citizenship for a significant part of the
‘mobile’ European population.
This is not completely accurate and represents an overlooking of the distinction between human
rights and citizens’ rights.
Several projects investigate how these generalised statements about political
engagement and rights of migrants are acted out and contested in different national,
regional and demographic EU contexts.
EUMARGINS focuses on the (dis)enfranchisement of immigrant youth, and their
consequent detachment from the political sphere, even when they have the right to
vote in certain elections. The authors of this particular study (Kaldun et al. 2011: 21–
22) recommend that young people with a residence permit be allowed to vote in local
elections. In Sweden, Norway and Estonia this is the case, but it is not so in many other
countries such as Italy and Greece, where the strict control over access to citizenship
is a major obstacle to the political participation of younger immigrants. It is therefore
further recommended that political parties should try to stimulate dialogue with
immigrant youth to explore what kinds of issue they would like to see placed on the
political agenda. This can be achieved by creating meeting points where young migrants
can come in direct contact with politicians and the local authorities. Meanwhile the
education system could do more to encourage pupils to take an active interest in politics
as early as possible, to learn more about the political stance of the various parties.
The ACCEPT PLURALISM project shows how the stigmatisation of minority citizens has
the effect of excluding them from exercising their rights to political representation
(Escafré-Dublet and Ng 2012). There are both similarities and differences in minorities’
political positioning between two countries with long histories of immigration. In France,
immigrant associations have traditionally articulated their claims in terms that are
‘acceptable’ to this republican secular state. Articulating group ethnic and religious
demands, however, is generally regarded as unacceptable in France whereas, in the UK,
representation on these bases is considered legitimate and ethno-religious identities
are tolerated, if not positively encouraged, in a country with a more multicultural ethos.
Where the two countries are more similar is in their attitudes towards Muslim
mobilisation. Muslim minorities may ask to be treated as equal citizens and contend
that their demands should be considered as ‘normal’, yet the state, in both countries, is
suspicious of their claims and sees them as too specific and sectarian. Moreover, many
demands made by Muslims are seen as purely reactive and fuelled by grievances – but
this perception is another form of stigmatisation.
Language and culture tests – a one-way dialogue?
France and the UK have adjusted their citizenship policies and requirements: the
UK from the simple requirement of five years’ residency to a standardised English
language and ‘British culture’ test; France, too, introduced a ‘language and culture’
test. This reflects the ‘neo-assimilationist turn’ observable in the stiffening integration
strategies of many European countries. The result, however, is a one-way dialogue –
from the majority to the minority. One party sets the standards for the other when,
in fact, both contribute to the changing society. To foster a two-way dialogue, tests
should consider the immigrant’s ability to shape the normative narrative. EscaféDublet and Ng (2012: 7) suggest the addition of new questions such as:
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
‘What do you plan to contribute to the country or city once you have obtained citizenship?’
‘What do you think you have contributed thus far?’
‘How do you see yourself in this country ten years from now?’
The ways in which immigration – especially that of Muslims – has become politicised
is the main topic of research in the SOM project (Support and Opposition to Migration).
SOM includes two countries where immigration started relatively recently (Spain and
Ireland), three countries where new or established parties successfully mobilised
support on an anti-immigration ticket (Austria, Switzerland and Belgium-Flanders),
one ‘old’ immigration country where such parties have been around for a long time
but only recently scored some electoral success (the Netherlands), and another ‘old’
country where anti-immigration parties have yet to flourish (the UK46). Findings are
based on content analysis of national newspapers over the period 1995–2009, with
one broadsheet and one tabloid chosen for each country across 700 sampled days.
Two key conceptual notions were analysed: salience, referring to the number of ‘claims’
about migration, and polarisation, measured on a five-point scale according to whether
a relevant political claim displays a position which is favourable or hostile to migrants.
Key findings include the following (SOM 2012a, 2012b):
Across all seven countries surveyed, the salience of immigration was rather low in 1995. It increased in the early 2000s, then decreased at the end of the decade (since then, and especially in the current period, it has markedly increased – witness the events in the Mediterranean, Hungary, Calais etc.).
Immigration is a more contested issue in some countries than in others. The UK displays the highest level of polarisation over time, German-speaking Switzerland the least. In countries with two-party politics (the UK, Spain), the debate on immigration tends to be the most polarised.
In most countries, the politicisation of migration is top-down driven by political parties but, in the UK, Ireland and Switzerland, the process is also initiated bottom-up by journalists and civil-society actors. In countries where the electoral impact of mobilising politics around immigration is unpredictable, the issue is kept off the party agenda.
An important finding was that the adoption of new citizenship rules for immigrants is associated with a depoliticisation of immigration in the public sphere. A typical example occurred with the 2004 citizenship referendum in Ireland, which removed the automatic right to citizenship-by-birth to the children of immigrants and thereby reduced the parents’ access to residence rights. The period which followed was marked by fewer claims against migrants’ rights on access to citizenship.
The political complexion of governments has an effect on the capacity of new policies to depoliticise debates on immigration. Right-wing governments, which generally tend to be more anti-immigration, find it more difficult to depoliticise demands made about refugees, asylum-seekers or anti-discrimination policy. Left-leaning parties, which tend to take a more pro-immigrant stance, find it more difficult to depoliticise demands to restrict immigrants’ access to the labour market.
The electoral success of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which was mainly at local level and
flattered to deceive in the 2015 General Election, arose after the end of the SOM survey period.
The politicisation of the discourse about Muslim migrants in Europe
A special strand of the SOM project was directed to the politicisation of Muslim
migrants (see SOM 2012c). Most claims in the news do not differentiate between
Muslim and other immigrant groups, but the number and share of the claims which
were about Muslims was found to be on the rise across all the countries surveyed.
The content of immigration policy does not seem to affect the fact that more claims
are being made about Muslim immigrants. Muslims are frequently singled out –
more so than other immigrant groups – for their alleged ‘non-Western’ cultural
differences. They have become a migrant group which is discursively constructed as
different not only to the mainstream host society but also to other migrant/minority
groups. Claims which discuss Muslim immigrants largely in terms of their religion
and/or ethnicity are especially high in the UK and Switzerland. Overall, 83 per cent of
all claims about Muslims are made by non-Muslim actors and commentators, hence
the ‘vision’ of Muslims is overwhelmingly shaped by non-Muslims.
In terms of policy implications, SOM recommends that state actors, political parties and
journalists should consider more carefully the way in which different immigrant groups
are portrayed in public debate. The media can give immigrant groups a voice to let them
speak on their own terms, while civil-society organisations can provide positive settings
for migrant groups to have their say.
3.8 Integration and transnationalism: not a zero-sum relationship
Research on integration sits uneasily with the main new paradigm to influence the
study of international migration in recent years – the transnationalism approach
(Glick Schiller et al. 1995). This approach emphasises the maintenance of a range of
ties to the migrants’ homeland, such as sending remittances, close kinship relations,
visits home, and the preservation of language, religion and other cultural resources.
From a transnational perspective, migrants are not ‘lost’ to their home countries and
‘assimilated’ into the host society; rather, they move back and forth across international
borders and between different societies and cultures, as well as developing multiple
or hybrid identities reflecting their participation in life both ‘here’ and ‘there’. Although
transnationalism has its detractors (e.g. Waldinger and Fitzgerald 2004), this has been
the dominant theoretical framework in migration studies for the past two decades.
Logic would suggest an oppositional relationship between migrants’ integration into the
host society, on the one hand, and their ongoing transnational ties to their homeland
on the other. Research shows that this is very far from the case: indeed some evidence
suggests that migrants who are well integrated can also be highly transnational in
their orientation and behaviour. This is also an issue for the debate on migration and
development, as will be shown in the next chapter (section 4.3).
As noted earlier (section 3.2), the relationship between integration and transnationalism
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
can be seen as a ‘balancing act’ with many combinations and outcomes (Erdal and Oeppen
2013). For Mazzucato (2008), studying Ghanaians in the Netherlands, transnationalism
and integration are a ‘double engagement’, with a variety of relationships which can
take different forms over the migrants’ life-course, becoming more oriented towards
integration once family reunion and the birth of children take place in the host country.
Erdal and Oeppen (2013: 872–874) propose a fourfold typology of integration–
transnationalism interfaces.
the alarmist view is that a strong (trans)national identity and continuous orientation to the homeland prevents integration from taking place and results in profound mistrust between the migrant community and the host society, based on irreconcilable cultural, religious and ideological differences;
the pessimistic outcome results from migrants finding functional integration difficult – because of the challenge of finding work and learning the language, and facing discrimination – and therefore finding that they have to engage in transnational livelihood strategies in order to survive, both economically and psychologically;
the positive position sees integration and transnationalism as mutually supportive processes – for instance, successful (economic) integration enables migrants to make return visits, send remittances and fund transnational businesses; or it could be that good social networking skills are equally effective in the host and home societies;
the pragmatic approach reflects a more nuanced and contextual interpretation of the relationship, depending on the types of and motivations for migration, life-stage, length of stay and circumstances in the country of origin.
Much empirical research tends to support the pragmatic interpretation – for instance
Mazzucato’s (2008) study of Ghanaian migration cited above. Snel et al. (2006) found
that migrant groups who are poorly integrated in Dutch society are not more involved
in transnational activities and have no stronger identification with their country of origin
than other groups who are more integrated in the Netherlands. In another Dutch study
which surveyed the attachments of Eastern European migrants in the Netherlands,
Engbersen et al. (2013) proposed four patterns from the data analysed:
circular migrants – mostly seasonal workers – with weak attachments to the country of destination;
bi-nationals, with strong attachments to both the destination and the origin countries;
footloose migrants with weak attachments to both the home and the destination countries;
settlers, with weak attachments to the home country.
This study reinforced the importance of distinguishing different migration patterns
when analysing the debate on integration and transnationalism, and demonstrated that
successful integration into the host (Dutch) society can go hand-in-hand with either
‘weak’ or ‘strong’ transnational ties.
Another study – this time on Eastern Europeans in Italy – highlighted the importance of
the sphere of integration in explaining different transnational outcomes (Cela et al. 2013).
These authors showed that economic integration correlated with stronger transnational
practices, whereas strong socio-cultural integration lessened the maintenance and
development of cross-border ties.
Similar findings to some of those reported above were found by the TRANS-NET research
programme (TRANS-NET 2011). TRANS-NET pointed to the fact that the transnational
spaces created by international migration are decidedly asymmetrical in terms of the
flows of resources and the distribution of power. For instance, in all countries receiving
migrants (in this project, Germany, France, the UK and Finland), both immigration rules
as well as integration policies have increasingly prioritised the national interest. So,
while professional and highly skilled migrants are welcomed as vital contributions to the
workforce, asylum-seekers and refugees have been seen as a threat to the countries’
economy and national security.
Reinforcing findings cited above, TRANS-NET found that migrants’ transnational activities
were highly likely to change over the migrants’ life-course, depending especially on
family and household composition. Therefore policies concerning the integration of
immigrants should consider the needs of different groups depending on their lifecycle stage. TRANS-NET also found that transnational activities may work to support
integration and vice versa. For instance, long-term Turkish migrants in Germany favour
an understanding of integration which does not contradict their ongoing transnational
practices. This leads to a wider policy recommendation that dual citizenship should be
seen as an element framing not only the maintenance of complementary identities but
also migrants’ participation in public life and politics (Içduygu and Sert 2010).
Meanwhile, attempts to ‘manage’ migration have to engage simultaneously with the
sending and the receiving contexts and take into account the wider social, economic and
political spaces that are produced by labour migration and migrant transnationalism.
This should also be done with a firm eye on issues of ‘development’ in migrants’
countries of origin – the theme of the next chapter.
Integration – key policy implications and recommendations
A general recommendation stemming from research is that integration policies should
target hosting societies as much as migrants, given that integration is a two-way
process. More particularly, several studies looked at the determinants of xenophobic
or welcoming attitudes towards immigrants on the part of native populations. The
results may guide policy-makers to direct integration policies towards those members
of the host society who are the most likely to hold negative views on immigration,
such as people with lower education and lower income, or living in rural areas, etc.
The citizenship tests introduced by some EU governments should take account of
immigrants’ ability to shape the normative narrative of the host country. Questions
such as ‘What do you plan to contribute to the country or city once you have obtained
citizenship?’ or ‘How do you see yourself in this country ten years from now?’ could
be added to the tests. More generally, citizenship requirements should strive to foster
a two-way dialogue between the majority and the minority.
Several projects pointed to the crucial importance of language learning in integration
processes, making language teaching one of the top priorities for integration policies.
Complex relationships were found to exist within cities between ethnic diversity
and neighbourhood attachment. Although at an aggregate level the association is
negative, ethnic diversity does not erode neighbourhood attachment for natives who
have meaningful and active ties (i.e. beyond casual street encounters) with people
of other ethnicities. Policy-makers should devise opportunities and settings for
meaningful inter-ethnic socialisation at the neighbourhood level.
On the other hand, a positive association was found between cultural diversity in the
workplace and overall economic performance, business creativity and wage levels.
In order to accommodate religious and cultural differences in school contexts, policymakers are advised to:
avoid a one-size-fits-all set of rules and guidelines;
introduce as mandatory a model of dialogue between the schools, parents and students; and
allow schools the freedom to accommodate diversity based on local circumstances and experiences
In order to obtain the best educational outcomes from second-generation and ethnicminority children, policy-makers should:
make nursery and pre-school care widely available and foresee state support for such services;
envisage the streaming of pupils in different educational tracks (e.g. leading or not leading to higher education) at a late stage, around age 15 or 16;
minimise the need for parental help and support with school-related tasks; and
implement recruiting practices to increase the ethnic diversity of the teaching staff, especially in schools with ethnically mixed populations.
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration and
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
The Commission’s landmark document A European Agenda on Migration identifies
‘stronger action to link migration and development policy’ as one of its ‘key actions’
(EC 2015: 17). Bringing migration and development together under the same policy
framework is still a relatively novel initiative, and a full understanding of both
the theoretical and empirical linkages between the two has yet to be achieved. The
European Agenda on Migration sees the policy of EU external cooperation assistance
and development cooperation (a budget of 96.8 million Euros over the period 2014–20)
as playing ‘an important role in tackling global issues like poverty, insecurity, inequality
and unemployment, which are among the main root causes of irregular and forced
migration’ (EC 2015: 8). However, the ‘root causes’ argument – namely that povertydriven migration can be staunched by policies which target the eradication of poverty
– is only one of many mechanisms linking development with migration. Another line of
analysis, supported by MAFE and other research, suggests that migration itself is an
effective ‘route out of poverty’ and that economic growth and development leads not
to a reduction in the pressure to emigrate but, rather, increases that pressure by giving
more people access to the financial and other resources required to sustain a ‘migration
Clearly, then, what has come to be known as the ‘migration–development nexus’ (Van
Hear and Sørensen 2003; Faist et al. 2011) is a discursive arena for many competing
ideas and policy thrusts. This chapter teases out the main theoretical linkages
between migration and development and sheds some light on their practical and
policy exemplification by focusing on key processes such as remittance sending, return
migration, and diaspora mobilisation.
4.1 Linkages between migration and development: competing
Until recently the two interdisciplinary academic and policy fields of migration studies and
development studies remained apart from each other. Scholars of migration said little
about development; development specialists tended to overlook migration. Relationships
between migration and development were either not investigated or remained implicit
rather than explicit. Thus, historical migrations of colonisation and settlement were seen
as helping to ‘develop’ underdeveloped areas where there were unexploited resources of
land and other primary products. These were primarily migrations out of Europe, lasting
from the age of colonisation to the 1960s. Meanwhile, migrations within Europe, such
as the so-called ‘guestworker’ migrations of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, were
primarily seen as functional to the rebuilding and industrial development of Europe
in the early post-war decades. There was little recognition of these migrants’ links to
their home countries and their possible impact on development there, except an implicit
assumption that remittances and return migration would be somehow beneficial.
However, several field studies carried out in the 1970s and 1980s in various Mediterranean
countries found this hoped-for migration–development effect to be largely absent47.
This critical perspective was pushed further by Marxist-inspired authors such as Castles
See the overview of Böhning (1975) and research in Turkey by Abadan-Unat et al. (1976), Spain
by Rhoades (1978) and Southern Italy by King et al. (1986).
Migration and Development
and Kosack (1973) and Piore (1979), who argued that the economic growth of post-war
Europe was founded upon the exploitation of migrant workers, with little concern for
their welfare or the development of their origin countries. Castles and Kosack (1973: 8)
went as far as to say that labour migration was a form of development aid donated by
the poor to the rich countries of Europe.
The nature of the debate on the relationship between migration and development
changed around 2000 when the phrase ‘migration–development nexus’ gained
popularity in academic and policy circles (Van Hear and Sørensen 2003).
Why the ‘migration–development nexus’ gained popularity in the early
First, there was an understanding that international migration had accelerated,
diversified and, above all, globalised since the 1980s, in what Castles and Miller
(1993) famously defined as the ‘Age of Migration’48.
Second, as a direct consequence of migration’s globalisation, it became clear
that migrants retained strong transnational ties to their home countries, and
more particularly their home communities. These ‘backward linkages’ endured
after many years, even decades, of migrants’ residence in destination countries,
sustained by return visits, the sending of remittances and, as the IT revolution
progressed, by cheap phone calls, the Internet, Skype etc. New empirical research,
including that reviewed in later sections of this chapter, demonstrated some
positive developmental effects of migration on home regions, although not all
outcomes are beneficial.
And third, there was a new groundswell of debate on migration and development
at the international institutional and policy level. This became evident from the
mid-2000s in arenas such as the Global Forum for Migration and Development,
the High-Level UN Dialogues on Migration, and the increasing recognition of the
developmental potential of migration for origin countries in successive EU policy
Several authors (Faist 2008; de Haas 2010, 2012; Gamlen 2014) have configured
the migration–development debate as a theoretical pendulum which has repeatedly
swung between optimistic and pessimistic scenarios over the past fifty or so years. The
optimistic scenario rests on the so-called ‘triple-win’ outcome, whereby migration is said
to be ‘good’ for the receiving country, the sending country, and the migrants themselves.
This is how it goes. The destination country receives an extra supply of ‘free labour’
whose costs of upbringing and education it has not had to bear. Coming from poorer
countries with low incomes and high unemployment, such labour is willing to work for
below-average wages in a range of undesirable jobs which are rejected by the local
workforce. The presence of these productive workers boosts economic efficiency and
overall competitiveness, adds to aggregate consumer demand and, provided that their
This book has come to be regarded as the standard text on contemporary global migration, reaching its 5th edition (Castles et al. 2014).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
work is registered and formalised, migrant workers contribute more to the tax revenue
than they take out in welfare demands (as we saw in section 3.3). They also contribute,
at least for a time (until they return-migrate or grow old), to the rejuvenation of Europe’s
ageing population. The source country sees reduced unemployment, receives substantial
remittances and benefits from returning migrants bringing back capital, training and
work experience from abroad. Even if migrants do not return, they may channel their
investment to the home country. And thirdly the migrants are ‘winners’, as they escape
poverty and unemployment, receive higher incomes (which are usually worth even more
in the country of origin due to lower living costs), improve their life-chances and those of
their families, and gain new experiences and perspectives (known as ‘social remittances’
– Levitt 1998) through living and working abroad.
The pessimistic scenario presents a range of negative outcomes which are the flip-side
of the arguments set out above. For the receiving country, there is the risk that immigrant
workers may drive down wages and displace native workers, whilst the fiscal burden
may turn negative if they stay long-term and bring their families. At a time of recession
and economic restructuring, immigrant workers usually post higher unemployment rates
than native workers. For the sending country, emigration is socially and demographically
selective, leading to a haemorrhage of ambition and talent, which may take the form of
a brain drain. Cumulative migration leads to a depopulation of peripheral countries and
regions, whose economic decline is only cushioned by an over-reliance on remittances,
whilst returnees may find it difficult to reintegrate, both socially and in terms of finding
jobs. For the migrants, there are inherent risks and dangers in migration, especially if
they are classed as ‘irregular’. They may suffer exploitation, discrimination, racism and
de-skilling; their physical and mental well-being may be damaged by doing jobs that are
dangerous, dirty and demeaning (the so-called ‘3D’ jobs); and they may have to endure
long periods of separation from family and loved ones.
De Haas (2012) and Gamlen (2014) trace four phases of alternating optimism and
pessimism through the analogy of recursive pendulum swings:
optimism during the 1960s and early 1970s, based on the encouragement of European mass migration to achieve ‘balanced growth’ and a ‘new equilibrium’ between capital and labour that fosters development at both destination and origin, in the latter setting through ‘remittances and return’;
pessimism during the later 1970s and the 1980s, based on the ‘asymmetrical growth’ hypothesis, whereby migration, rather than achieving a ‘new equilibrium’, fuels greater inequality between origin and destination areas, creating the dependency of the former on the latter in what some saw as a structurally ingrained core–periphery relationship (eg. Seers et al. 1979);
neo-optimism from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s, reflecting, at a theoretical and ideological level, neoliberal development thinking and, at an empirical level, new and detailed research which identified positive development impacts of remittances and of transnationally engaged migrants and diaspora members;
neo-pessimism in the last few years, reflecting scepticism about the realism and durability of the neoliberal confidence that migration can ‘deliver’ development (Skeldon 2008); a growing critique of the ‘mantra’ of remittances, based on conflicting research results and the questionable Migration and Development
morality of making migrants ‘responsible’ for developing their home countries; and renewed concerns about loss of human capital and productive potential – both ‘brain drain’ and ‘brawn drain’ (Gamlen 2014).
Clearly there is much ambivalence, even confusion, over the nature of the relationship
between migration and development. Understanding the migration–development nexus
is bedevilled both by conflicting empirical evidence and by competing theoretical and
ideological positions. Does underdevelopment cause migration, which then leads to
further underdevelopment in a vicious cycle, as the migration pessimists argue? Or does
migration, born out of underdevelopment, lead to development for the benefit of all –
the optimists’ virtuous cycle? Perhaps it is time to stop the swinging pendulum and look
at some solid empirical evidence.
4.2 Impacts of migration on development, inequality and
migration propensity in home countries
There is quite a lot of evidence that migration can stimulate development in migrantsending countries. Before this evidence is reviewed, we need to clarify our understanding
of ‘development’. Earlier purely economic definitions of development, which relied on
comparative and time-series trends in GDP per capita, have broadened in recent decades
to encompass a more multi-faceted conceptualisation of human development and wellbeing. This conceptual shift owes much to Sen’s (1999) revisioning of development
as freedom of choice and the capacity of people to exercise autonomy in their lives.
Following the initiative of the UNDP’s Human Development Index, quality-of-life
variables such as literacy, health, life expectancy, infant mortality, human and political
rights and gender equality have been added to the standard measure of per capita
GDP or GNI49. Also increasingly important are measures of inequality and therefore
of absolute and relative poverty. Therefore alleviating poverty and reducing inequality,
both between and within countries, become key development objectives.
The most recent trend in capturing ‘change’ and ‘progress’ in human development
within the wider context of the migration–development nexus is to follow a human
well-being perspective. The IOM’s World Migration Report 2013 was a landmark in
this respect, shifting the focus of previous reports – which had been mainly themed
around remittances, the return of skilled migrants and the involvement of the diaspora
in development – onto the well-being, happiness and life satisfaction of migrants and
their family members.
A key distinction in the well-being literature is between objective and subjective wellbeing (see Wright 2012: 9–11). Objective measures are statistical indicators of things
like income, health, employment, housing etc., while the subjective dimension includes
both perceptions of the objective measures and culturally embedded meanings and
understandings of life satisfaction or what it means to ‘feel good’. Some convergence
between objective and subjective well-being is naturally to be expected, but not always.
Simple material wealth does not necessarily bring happiness or contentment – as
Published annually by the UNDP since 1990, the Human Development Report has become a fundamental resource for reconceptualising and interrogating the complex phenomenon of development, and
for providing up-to-date statistics on progress in the countries of the world.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Graham (2009) points out, there are happy peasants and miserable millionaires.
Migration and well-being
The IOM’s comprehensive review of several studies on migration, happiness and
well-being, including a major Gallup survey, revealed mixed results, depending on
geographical context, type of migration and length of stay. However, insofar as one
can generalise – and, given the scale of the Gallup survey50, generalisations are
rather robust – it appears that migrants do enjoy enhanced well-being compared to
non-migrants in their home countries. Focusing on those migrants who move from
the global South (low- and middle-income countries) to the global North (hence into
Europe), key findings can be summarised as follows (IOM 2013: 114–115, 168–
South-North migrants do not rate their life satisfaction as highly as the native-born in their country of residence, but they rate their lives higher than matched stayers in their country of origin.
Newly arrived migrants are optimistic about their future lives; long-time migrants are more pessimistic.
Migrants moving within the global North experience the greatest advances in well-being. South-North migrants also make significant gains, but less so than intra-North movers. For instance, after living in their destination country for more than five years, North-North migrants reach the financial level of the native-born; there is less improvement for South-North migrants.
The IOM review pushes us, if anything, to be cautious about the impact of migration on
human well-being. These findings stand in some tension with the thrust of the UNDP’s
2009 Human Development Report, entitled Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and
Development, which concluded (UNDP 2009: 49) that ‘the majority of movers [i.e.
migrants] end up better off – sometimes much better off – than before they moved.
The gains are potentially highest for people who move from poor to the wealthiest
Gamlen (2014: 587) wonders whether the 2009 Human Development Report may have
been the ‘high-water mark’ of migration–development optimism. Along with Vammen
and Brønden (2012), he cautions against the danger of ‘buzz and spin’, which diverts
attention away from the underlying structural inequality in the global political and
economic system with its inherited legacy of colonialism, institutional frameworks,
policy regimes and political struggles embedded within specific local, regional and
national contexts.
The Gallup World Poll collected data in 2009–11 from 25,000 first-generation migrants and
442,000 native-born individuals in 150 countries. It collected data on five subjective-evaluative aspects of
well-being – financial, career, community, social and physical – and compared the results across migrants
moving along four global migration pathways – North-North, North-South, South-North and South-South.
Our main concern in this review is migration along the South-North pathway.
Migration and Development
Others offer a more balanced view of this contested field. Summing up a six-year
programme of empirical research on migration, globalisation and poverty51, Black
(2009) concluded that the evidence showed that migration – both internal and
international – represents an important route out of poverty. Two crucial questions arise
from this generalisation: one about whether migration and development are positively
or negatively correlated cross-sectionally and over time, and the other about the
relationship between migration and inequality.
First, then, does reducing poverty in developing countries diminish the push factors for
migration? MAFE research found a link which worked in the opposite direction – between
increasing propensity to migrate to Europe and increasing levels of development. This
finding was based on empirical research conducted amongst Ghanaian, Senegalese and
Congolese migrants in several European countries and included research carried out
both in the countries of origin and those of destination (for details, see Schoumaker et
al. 2013). Policies that assume, via the ‘root causes’ mechanism, that fostering economic
development will lead to a reduction in the pressure to migrate may be wide of the mark
(see MAFE 2013a). Indeed, the very opposite can be argued: namely that economic
development in countries of origin can be associated with increasing emigration over
the short term.
Both the theoretical and the common-sense rationale for this positive association
between migration and development rest on the notion of the ‘migration hump’ (Martin
and Taylor 1996): in other words an inverted U-shaped curve expressing the relationship
between development (horizontal axis) and quantity of migration (vertical axis). Very
poor people are too poor to migrate: they lack the financial and human-capital resources.
When social and economic development occurs, it enables and inspires more people to
migrate (de Haas 2007; Telli 2014). At a later stage of development, however, people
are sufficiently well-off not to need to migrate to improve their material well-being,
although they may still move for other reasons (career progress, personal factors,
lifestyle etc.).
The case of Southern Europe is instructive in this regard, for this region experienced a
remarkable ‘migration turnaround’ – from mass emigration between the 1950s and
early 1970s to mass immigration during the 1990s and after. The region’s rapid evolution
from a condition of widespread rural poverty and underemployment in the early postwar decades to a much-more-highly developed industrial and service economy since
the 1980s is the underlying economic reason for the turnaround. Other factors played
a role, too, including EU enlargement and the availability of structural and regional
development funds, the boom in tourism and the relative openness of the southern EU
borders to immigration from outside (King et al. 1997).
The research by the EUMAGINE team reported earlier (section 2.1) shows that, in Turkey
and Morocco, there was a correlation between low income and propensity to migrate (so
that middle-income households had lower aspirations to migrate). This suggests that
The research was funded by the UK Department for International Development and coordinated
from the University of Sussex in the form of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty over the six years 2003–09, with partners in Albania, Bangladesh, Egypt and Ghana, all
countries of large-scale emigration in recent years.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
these two countries may be following the Southern European model and moving over
the ‘hump’ at the top of the curve.
The second crucial question concerns the relationship between migration and inequality
in the migrant-origin countries. There is some evidence that inequality encourages
migration because the poor and less well-off feel a sense of relative as well as absolute
deprivation (Stark and Taylor 1989; Stark 2006; Czaika and de Haas 2012). This
generalisation is not unambiguous, however, because of the challenges of measuring
inequality (social, income, spatial, which scale to adopt etc.) and the not-uncommon fact
that the nature of the evidence differs from one migration context to another. But what
impact does migration have on inequality in the sending countries?
If there are cost barriers to migration, then the benefits of migration will accrue to those
who are already reasonably or very well-off; this will also be the case if migration is
selective towards the highly skilled. By contrast, where poor people have a choice in
terms of migration options, the net effect on inequality is to reduce it – always assuming
that there are positive returns to migration (Czaika 2013).
The case of Albania
Evidence from Albania is revealing in this regard (Black 2009: 7, 21). Here the poorest
20 per cent of the population are unlikely to consider migration. Also the best-off
are less likely to migrate – because they have no need to. The middle range of the
Albanian population – many of whom are ‘poor’ as opposed to ‘very poor’ – divide
themselves into three main destinations. The poorest of this group migrate internally,
mostly to informal settlements on the fringes of the capital, Tirana; the next stratum
mainly migrated to Greece, where clandestine entry was easy; and the better-off
migrated to Italy and other European countries, often paying smugglers to help them
(for more details, see Zezza et al. 2005; Azzari and Carletto 2009). In rural areas
of Albania, as in many other parts of the world affected by large-scale emigration,
the receipt of remittances is the main variable which differentiates non-poor from
poor households, often very visibly so because of the investment of remittances in
improved and new housing (de Soto et al. 2002; de Zwager et al. 2005).
4.3 Remittances: a panacea for survival and development?
Remittances are private transfers from migrant workers who are considered residents
of a host country to recipients in the migrants’ country of origin (World Bank 2011: xvi).
Usually they are financial transfers but they can also be in kind, in the form of goods or
gifts – clothes, consumer goods, medicines etc. Typically, remittances flow in the opposite
direction to the migrant flows, but ‘reverse remittances’ may occur in the early stages
of migration, to support the migrant in becoming established in the destination country,
or when the migrant needs support at other times – for instance due to unemployment
or illness – or to finance a period of study. Data on remittances are imperfect due to the
different countries’ recording systems and the fact that an unknown, but certainly large,
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quantity of remittances moves via informal channels rather than through banks, post
offices or money transfer operators such as Western Union.
There are comprehensive global datasets on remittances but they are subject to the
caveats mentioned above. Collecting primary data on remittances through sample
surveys is one solution, but such efforts capture only a tiny fraction of total global
transfers, and run the risk, anyway, that survey respondents do not give accurate accounts
of the amounts involved52. However, such primary surveys are vital for capturing the
mechanics of remittances – who sends, who receives, what the money is used for, who
decides on this etc. Direct surveys also reveal how remittances are embedded in the
wider dynamics of migration, such as motivations for migration (economic vs other
motives), temporary vs permanent migration, and who migrates and who stays behind.
From an economic point of view, remittances can be directed to a wide range of spending
and investment destinations which have differential short- and long-term impacts on
the local economy. These channels include:
support for everyday living costs – food, clothes, medicines, fuel etc.;
spending/investment in new and improved housing;
investment in a business – eg. in land, farm machinery or irrigation to improve an agricultural enterprise, or in a business in the industrial, retailing or transport sector;
investment in human capital, such as children’s education;
pooling into collective remittances directed to a joint project such as a school, community centre, road or other infrastructural investment back in the village or hometown.
Protagonists of the pessimistic view of migration’s development potential in the origin
country were sceptical about the role of remittances, which, they said, were ‘wasted’ on
conspicuous consumption – lavish social events, extravagant new housing and imported
consumer products. It was argued that these brought little long-term benefit to the
local economy. The potential of remittance-led development was reappraised in the
1990s and early 2000s when, in fact, remittances became the central plank of the
positive interpretation of the migration–development nexus. Around this time, a number
of important research and review papers were published vouchsafing the positive spinoffs of remittances (see Gammeltoft 2003; Adams and Page 2005; and Lucas 2005:
145–206 for a thorough overview).
Two theoretical innovations underpinned this re-evaluation of the strategic role
of remittances. The ‘new economics of labour migration’, or NELM, conceptualised
migration as a household family decision, not an individual one; hence the migration
of one or more (but not all) household members was seen in the light of a familybased portfolio of diverse economic activities geared not only to income maximisation
but also to risk minimisation. Remittances contributed to the survival and progress
of the family unit based in the country of origin, and provided an insurance against
‘market failures’ such as crop wipe-out (Taylor 1999). In NELM thinking, migration and
remittances formed a crucial component of a capabilities-based livelihoods approach
to development and well-being which stressed the active agency of individuals and
For more discussion on the problems of remittance data, see Gammeltoft (2003: 111–114),
Carling (2008) and World Bank (2011: xvi–xviii).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
households to improve their lives. According to de Haas (2010: 246) the combined NELM
and livelihoods approaches seemed to better reflect the realities of daily life for millions
of migrants in developing countries than abstract neo-classical economics or dogmatic
neo-Marxist structuralism.
The second theoretical innovation was the by-now-well-known transnational lives
approach to international migration. The core idea here is that many migrants develop
and sustain multi-stranded relationships – kinship, social, economic, religious, political –
that span borders, link their societies of origin and settlement and create transnational
social and economic spaces (Glick Schiller et al. 1995; Faist 2000). The ‘transnational
turn’ in migration studies, which informs the TRANS-NET and EURA-NET projects, has
important implications for the relationship between migration and development (de
Haas 2010: 246–253; Faist and Fauser 2011), and this approach explicitly informs the
TRANS-NET and EURA-NET projects. Migrants and their families inhabit transnational
social fields simultaneously across two or more spaces, making use of a variety of
corporeal, virtual and symbolic interactions – back-and-forth travel for business and
pleasure (often facilitated by budget airlines), satellite television, cheap telephone calls,
the Internet and Skype, and economic activities such as investments and remittances.
Remittances have become the key component of ‘the economics of transnational living’
(Guarnizo 2003). Furthermore, empirical studies of transnational migrants show how
being both ‘here’ and ‘there’ is not a zero-sum relationship. Integration in receiving
societies and an ongoing commitment to home countries are not inversely related but
can involve a positive correlation, in that those migrants who are the most integrated
in host societies (and generally therefore quite well-off) are also the ones who engage
actively in transnational economic behaviour (Erdal and Oeppen 2013).
Some facts about remittances
Data on global remittance flows are provided by the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund, based on remittance flow data into migrant-sending and therefore
remittance-receiving countries53. Global remittance totals have grown faster than
the global
Stock of migrants, although part of this differential could be due to better recording
systems for remittances and an increasing use of formal channels. Annual
remittance totals (in billion US dollars) for the world grew from 127 in 2000, to 298
in 2005, 458 in 2010 and 557 in 2013. The estimate for 2014 is 583 US$ billion. By
comparison the global ‘stock’ of international migrants increased from 150 million
in 2000 to 232 million in 2013.
Remittances are sent not only by recent migrants but also by longer-standing
stocks of migrants accumulated over the years. This tends to make remittances
persistent over time and not subject to wide fluctuations. If new migration stops,
Outgoing remittance flows sent from migrant-receiving countries yield lower aggregate totals
for the world (see World Bank 2011: 19). Many countries – such as Italy, Spain and Portugal – are both
significant senders and significant receivers of remittances because they are countries of both emigration and immigration. The official remittance data quoted here and in Tables 10–12 are from http://econ.,,contentMDK:22759429-pagePK:64165401piPK:64165026-theSitePK:476883,00.html Accessed 5 August 2015.
Migration and Development
then remittances may, over a decade or so, stop growing too; they will continue to
grow as long as migration flows continue (World Bank 2011: 17). Since the mid1990s, remittances to developing countries have consistently outpaced overseas
development assistance (ODA): remittances were on average double ODA during
the early and mid-2000s and are now triple. Currently, remittances to developing
countries approximate the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI).
Remittance flows have shown themselves to be more constant, and resilient to
economic crisis, than both ODA and FDI. Remittances to developing countries fell
by 5.5 per cent between 2008 and 2009, but bounced back up almost to the
2008 level in 2010. By contrast, FDI slumped by 40 per cent in 2008–09 (World
Bank 2011: x). Moreover, because they are targeted mostly to migrants’ families
and local communities, often in rural areas, remittances are regarded as a more
effective ‘grassroots’ mechanism of support and development than the more ‘lumpy’
applications of FDI and ODA, which are often directed to larger projects.
Table 11 - Top remittance-sending countries (US$ bn)
Saudi Arabia
United States
Russian Federation
Source: World Bank.
It is often suggested that remittances have a counter-cyclical function (see, for instance,
Rapoport and Docquier 2006; Frankel 2010). The reasoning behind this argument is that
migrants send remittances not only to support family members on a day-to-day basis
but also to respond to episodes of crisis, such as the loss of another source of income or
an expensive health emergency. Whilst there have been many occasions when migrant
remittances and donations from the diaspora have spiked during collective disasters
such as earthquakes or hurricanes, other empirical studies have challenged the counter-
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
cyclical hypothesis, due to the limited capacities of migrants to respond, especially if
they, too, may be suffering from unemployment or reduced incomes (Ruiz and VargasSilva 2014).
Table 12 - Top remittance-receiving countries (US$ bn)
Source: World Bank.
Remittances: top sending and receiving countries
Table 11 shows the top 13 remittance-sending countries (those sending at least
US$ 10 billion in 2013) and the evolution of their remittance outflows over the past
decade. As it is by some measure the world’s largest host country for migrants, it is
no surprise that the US has consistently topped the list of remittance senders, even
if the increase in remittance totals sent has been relatively modest over the past
decade. The fastest growth in remittances sent is recorded by the Russian Federation,
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Remittance outflows from Europe have grown at
varying rates – tripling for France and doubling for Switzerland, Luxemburg and the
Netherlands, though increasing much more slowly for Germany, Spain and Italy.
Table 12 performs a similar exercise for the remittance-receiving countries: this time
the top 11 countries received at least US$ 10 billion in 2013. The big emigration
countries in Asia dominate the list – India, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh
and Vietnam, with Indonesia just below the cut-off point. We also note a contrast
between long-standing emigration countries like Mexico and the Philippines (as well
as France and Germany) where remittance receipts have grown only steadily over
the decade, and fast-growth countries such as China and Nigeria.
Based on absolute data, Table 12 only tells half the story. The reason why India
and China head the ranks is strongly influenced by the fact that these are the
world’s most populous countries, with large volumes of both established and recent
emigrants. Table 13 rectifies this scale distortion by expressing remittances received
as a fraction of national GDP.
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Table 13 - Top remittance-receiving countries ranked by share of GDP
US$ million
US$ million
remittances as
% GDP, 2013
Source: World Bank, authors’ analysis.
Kyrgyz Republic
Evidence for the patterning and effectiveness of remittances from Europe to Africa
comes principally from the MAFE project and some of its associated publications, as well
as from NOPOOR and SEARCH. These findings add to the existing extensive literature
on the role of remittances in alleviating poverty, coping with crisis and stimulating
development in migrant-sending countries (Adams and Page 2005; Lucas 2005: 145–
206; De and Ratha 2012; Ngoma and Ismail 2013).
Let us first be reminded of the impressive scale of the MAFE research programme:
5,000 retrospective interviews with migrants in six European countries (the UK, France,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain) and with non-migrants in three African
countries (Ghana, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo), and another 4,000
interviews with urban households in the three African countries. From a developmental
angle, the two key research themes of MAFE are transnational families, which includes
data on remittances, and the reintegration of returnees, dealt with in section 4.5.
The Africa-based urban survey data show that a large population of respondent
households had access to transnational social and kinship networks, emphasising the
geographically dispersed nature of African migrant families, often scattered amongst
multiple locations in Europe, North America and elsewhere in Africa (Mazzucato et al.
2013: 30–31). Insights into their integration and family reunion patterns were given
earlier in this report, in Chapter 3.
MAFE contains illuminating survey data on remittances. For the African urban household
survey, financial remittances were received by 56 per cent of Ghanaian households, and
49 per cent in Senegal and DR Congo. Spouses, children and siblings were the most
important remitters (and therefore spouses, parents and siblings the main receivers),
but there were also many cases where remittances were sent and received from
outside the nuclear family, reflecting the more extensive kinship base of African families
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
(Mazzucato et al. 2013: 11–12); or, put another way and rather more stereotypically,
‘the weakness of the [African] conjugal bond’ (Findley 1997: 123).
Case-studies of the individual countries reveal that remittances are also sent in kind. One
third of Senegalese and Congolese household respondents received in-kind remittances,
and 42 per cent in Ghana. Across all three countries, in-kind transfers were mostly
between female family members and between spouses (for details, see Beauchemin et
al. 2013a: 11–12; Beauchemin et al. 2013b: 12–13; Caarls et al. 2013: 14–15).
Another key finding from MAFE is that African migrants’ remittance contributions to
their countries of origin increase over time, reinforcing the general insight from the
literature that transnational ties endure rather than erode with increasing absence from
the home country. Figure 2 shows that, for most of the migration–remittance country
pairings, the ratio between the proportion of migrant interviewees sending remittances
one year after arrival in the destination country (20–40 per cent) had more or less
doubled by 2008 (the survey year) to 60–80 per cent (see MAFE 2013d).
Figure 2 - Proportion of migrants sending remittances at entry and in 2008, by country
of residence
Source: MAFE (2013d: 4).
Note: For each destination country, the left-hand column shows the proportion of African
migrants who sent remittances within their first year after arrival, whilst the right-hand
column shows the proportion remitting in the year of the survey, 2008.
As well as swelling remittances, there was also a significant growth in the ownership
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of assets back home, especially in Senegal and Ghana, although investment in assets
was found to build up more slowly over time (MAFE 2013d). This reflects a common
evolutionary pattern in remittance and home-country investment behaviour: initially
remittances are directed to household everyday expenses, next they are channelled
towards expenditure on housing and consumer goods, and only in a third phase towards
business and other investments. NOPOOR research on remittances in rural Mexico
found positives effects on agricultural assets to boost subsistence production, but not
on livestock (Böhme 2013).
If remittances go to support children in education, then this can last from the short
term to the long term depending on the timing of the educational cycle (de Zwager et
al. 2005; Ngoma and Ismail 2013). Evidence from the SEARCH project shows that, in
Moldova, the receipt of remittances increases the chances of a young family member
attending higher education by a third (Matano and Ramos 2013c: 3). Another key finding
from the SEARCH project, based on aggregated data analysis across several countries,
is that more-educated migrants are less likely to send remittances than less-educated
ones but, when they do, they send higher amounts (2013c: 3).
Another positive example of how remittances can support children’s education in
countries of origin comes from the NOPOOR project. A study by Cisse and Bambio
(2015) on the effects of migration and remittances on migrants' families left behind
in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Senegal found a significant positive effect of international
remittances on children’s school attendance.
MAFE provides rare insights into the support system offered by non-migrants to migrants
and the generally overlooked phenomenon of ‘reverse remittances’ (Mazzucato 2011),
although there is no analytical distinction made in the MAFE reports between support
for the initial migration (eg. paying for the trip) and ‘true’ reverse remittances which are
ongoing (such as supporting students abroad or providing ‘in-kind’ support by looking
after migrants’ children). MAFE survey data showed that 19 per cent of Ghanaian
respondents, 26 per cent of Congolese and 27 per cent of Senegalese supported the
migration of one or more family members. In all three cases, support was directed
mainly towards children and less often towards a spouse, sibling or other kin member.
Correlations between support to migrants and remittance receipt reveal a significant
and strong relationship, consistent with the NELM argument that migration is a family or
household enterprise and that migrants remit, amongst other reasons, to pay back their
households for earlier support. On the other hand, MAFE authors also comment on the
generally low incidence of support revealed by the percentage figures quoted above, and
opine that ‘this is a surprising finding as current migration theory emphasizes migration
as a household-level strategy’ (see MAFE 2013c). There is no clear-cut explanation for
this conundrum except some general references to the rather loose-knit structure of the
West African family and the ‘prevailing gender norms that prefer to keep women under
the supervision of the husband’s family’ (Mazzucato et al. 2013: 10).
Beyond the transfer of remittances, the frequency of other forms of contact between
households in Africa and their migrant family members is very high: more than twothirds received phone calls at least weekly. The frequency of visits from migrants varied:
16 per cent of Ghanaian households had received a visit from a family migrant within
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
the previous year, compared to 38 per cent for Senegal and 85 per cent for DR Congo.
These figures reflect the geographical patterning of the three different migrant groups
– most Congolese migrants are in other African countries, Senegalese are mainly in
Europe, and Ghanaians in Europe and North America (Mazzucato et al. 2013: 12–14).
A final key finding is that, where migrants retain strong links with their country of origin
through return visits and sending remittances, this is not a guarantee of an imminent
return. Indeed, quite the reverse was found to be the case for the Senegalese and
Congolese: those who sent remittances and/or periodically visited were those who were
delaying their plans to return. Thus remittances and regular visits can be seen as a
substitute for return, even though most migrants’ stated intentions were to eventually
return (MAFE 2013b).
4.4 Social remittances: a qualitative approach to development
One of the most powerful but under-utilised concepts within the migration–development
nexus is that of social remittances, defined by Levitt in her seminal paper on the topic
as ‘the ideas, behaviors, identities, and social capital that flow from receiving- to
sending-country communities’ (1998: 927). Social remittances are a key and potentially
transformative element of transnationalism and are therefore facilitated by the same
driving forces – economic, political and cultural globalisation, and ease of travel and
communication – allowing frequent return visits and other ways of staying in touch with
life in the sending country.
Three types of social remittance are specified by Levitt (1998: 933–936). Normative
structures are ideas, values and beliefs, and include norms for interpersonal behaviour,
notions of intra-family responsibility, principles of age- and gender-equality, different
ideas about neighbourliness, politeness and community participation, and aspirations
for social mobility. They also include ideas about how the state, local administration, the
police and the courts should function – more transparently, with less corruption. Two
simple examples would be the rejection of the idea that a bribe has to be paid to a local
official, and criticism of the practice of throwing discarded food wrappers or cigaretteends on the street.
Secondly, systems of practice refer to the way that normative structures are translated
into specific acts and behaviours – for instance with regard to the division of household
work tasks, or how local organisations might function more democratically and
inclusively. Levitt also gives a different kind of example, where the assumed socialdevelopment benefits of social remittances are more debatable. Based on her research
on migrants returning from Boston, USA, to Miraflores in the Dominican Republic, she
describes how they no longer build their houses with front-facing verandas which
facilitate neighbourly social interaction, but follow the example of US urban living and
orient their living spaces towards privacy, with a secluded patio out back or surrounding
their new-build houses with high walls (Levitt 1998: 934–935).
Finally, social remittances also involve social capital – which can both increase or decline
through migration and return. On the whole, interpersonal social capital ‘does not travel’,
because friendships and networks are ruptured when people move away. But in other
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cases the story is different, either because entire networks of people migrate, or because
the act of migration is itself socially networked, so that transnational migratory social
capital is created and reinforced. Hometown associations, which can have important
developmental impact, are another example of transnational social capital.
Levitt’s research on the Miraflores transnational community in Boston was a ‘typical’
study of rural-to-urban international migration articulated between a location in the
global South and one in the global North. Connections between the two locations
were frequent and intense, exemplified by a continuous flow of economic and social
remittances, and a high level of two-way community involvement. These conditions
are replicated in many other global migration contexts, including those in Europe. From
MAFE, Caarls et al. (2013: 12) use ‘social remittances’ to characterise the ongoing
discussion over ‘Western’ vs ‘African’ notions of ‘the family’ that takes place amongst
Ghanaian migrants in Europe and North America and non-migrants in Ghana.
Important insights into social remittances are given by the TRANS-NET project, which is
based on the study of several European and non-European transnational social spaces.
Järvinen-Alenius et al. (2010) point out that social remittances are transmitted not only
from countries of immigration to migrants’ homelands but also in the opposite direction
and can, moreover, involve relatives, friends and colleagues in third countries as well.
Beyond individual person-to-person transfer, social remittances are also affected by
the role of national, international and institutional power structures. Class may also
be a highly relevant variable: social remittances transmitted by elite, long-established
diasporans will differ from those transmitted by working-class labour migrants.
Moreover, IT developments change the nature and immediacy of social remittance
processes: Facebook and You Tube are widely used and have ‘instant’ potential as social
remittance channels (except where they are banned by some authoritarian states).
Järvinen-Alenius et al. (2010) describe three case-studies of social remittances:
Case 1 – the influence of mixed marriages on home-country views of gender relations and ‘cross-cultural know-how’ (2010: 201);
Case 2 – new ideas about working practices and diversity management, based on the Finnish-Estonian transnational work space; and
Case 3 – in the political sphere, new ideas about democratisation and migrants’ transnational political engagement, in both hostland and homeland politics.
Meanwhile, Levitt has added to her earlier work on Miraflores, this time introducing the
notion of collective social remittances – important for organisational management and
capacity-building in the hometown (Levitt and Lamba-Nieves 2011) – and Boccagni has
edited a special issue of Migration Letters which includes further theoretical reflection
on the concept of social remittances (Boccagni and Decimo 2013) and a range of casestudies. One of the most interesting is a study of Ukrainian women in Italy (Vianello
2013), where new ideas about ageing, self-realisation and women’s life-course were
communicated back to their families left behind.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
4.5 The contribution of return migration
On the whole, less attention has been paid in migration studies to the circumstances
and decision-making surrounding return migration than to explanations of the preceding
emigration (King 2000: 27). This is despite the fact that most migrants intend to return
and there is a school of thought which ‘naturalises’ return as the logical conclusion to
the migration cycle. This line of thinking also manifests itself in policy stances which
encourage return migration from host countries, where it is assumed that migrants
‘naturally belong’ in their home countries, to which they should therefore return. One
reason for the relative neglect of return migration is that return statistics are often
patchy and inaccurate – more so than statistics on migration from origin to destination
countries. Another reason might be that return decisions are inherently more complex
than migration departures. The latter are often clearly framed: people leave for economic
reasons, for better jobs and higher incomes; for political reasons, as exiles or refugees;
to study abroad; or for lifestyle reasons – to retire to a more relaxing and climatically
benign environment. The return reflects a more diverse set of checks and balances, and
often much greater uncertainty surrounds the actual return decision.
Historical studies of return migration reveal remarkable continuities in returnee
behaviour and impacts (King 2000). Two classics of return migration scholarship
illustrate this point. They Remember America (Saloutos 1956) documents the return of
Greek emigrants from the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. The
typical returnee was a middle-ranking employee or owner of a small business such as a
shop or restaurant. Wealthy persons and professionals tended not to return – they stayed
on to advance their businesses and careers. Resettlement was not unproblematic; many
were ill-prepared and complained about the ‘backwardness’ of Greece. Overall, Saloutos
judges that Greece benefited from return migration. Returnees brought capital, which
was mainly invested in property, but also new views on democracy, health standards,
social behaviour and free-enterprise business practices.
The second classic, Peasants No More (Lopreato 1967), looks at how migration to North
America and North-West Europe turned South Italian peasants into a kind of petite
bourgeoisie when they returned to their hometowns and villages. Like the returnees to
Greece, they primarily invest in new and improved housing and buy up land to improve
their social standing. Younger returnees with children also invest in their offspring’s
education, creating cross-generational upward social mobility.
Why do migrants return?
Recent reconceptualisations of return migration by – amongst others – Cassarino
(2004, 2008), King and Christou (2011) and Carling and Pettersen (2014) help us
to understand the various processes through which return migration can occur. Both
the ‘pure’ neoclassical theory of migration and the ‘pure’ Marxist analysis brand
returnees as ‘failures’. In the former case, those who return are simply individuals
who have miscalculated the costs and benefits of relocation. In the latter case,
returnees are those who have been ‘rejected’ by the system of industrial capitalism
because they have outlived their usefulness – the old, the sick and the exhausted.
The two important theoretical reframings of migration mentioned earlier – the new
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economics of labour migration and the transnational paradigm – provide more
helpful, realistic and nuanced frameworks for understanding return migration.
NELM theory considers returnees as ‘successes’, for these migrants have achieved
their targets of contributing to the household’s overall economic well-being. This
is not to say that the return is definitive and that they, or someone else in the
household unit, will not (re-)emigrate in the future. This possibility is also in line with
the transnational approach, which sees return migration and return visits as part of
the ongoing pattern of movement and contact between the sending and receiving
communities. Thus, rather than seeing return migration as a single migratory act
which closes the episode of migration, we should think of return mobilities which
exhibit various forms, functions and temporalities – a holiday visit, a longer stay for
family care reasons, a temporary return to explore job possibilities, repeated returns
as part of cyclical or seasonal migration, or the definitive return of permanent
The relationship between the ‘two Rs’ – remittances and return – is both simple
and complex. The obvious relationship is that, when return takes place, remittances
stop. This may then become the trigger for more complex interactions. Whilst family
members generally look forward to the return of their emigrant relatives, there may be
discouragement to return if they are crucially reliant on remittance income. And when
regular remittances are sent, this indicates, on the one hand, an economic and affective
bond to the origin-country household and an intentionality to return; however, on the
other hand, it may signal the continual postponement of the actualisation of a return
intention, as noted earlier, based on MAFE findings.
MAFE survey data for the three African countries show that the average age at return
is 45 and that return propensity is greatest after between 3 and 10 years abroad,
indicating that those who migrate with the intention of returning do so within this time
frame, rather than more recent or more established migrants (MAFE 2013b).
In one of the most significant outputs of MAFE, González-Ferrer et al. (2014) examine
the determinants of return of Ghanaian, Senegalese and Congolese migrants in Europe.
Their take-home finding is that return migration must be understood by reference
to the motives and circumstances underpinning the original migration. Most of their
paper is structured around the analysis of four hypotheses. Data are mainly drawn
from 218 event-history interviews with returned migrants in Senegal (mainly returned
from France), Ghana (mainly returned from the UK and the Netherlands) and DR Congo
(mainly returned from Belgium and African countries).
Hypothesis 1 is that long-distance migration implies higher costs of migration, longer
stays abroad and a lower propensity to return to the country of origin. Results show
higher rates of return and shorter stays abroad for the Congolese, who migrate much
more than the other two groups within Africa, than for the Ghanaians and Senegalese
who mainly migrate within Europe; for these two latter groups, returns peak after 8–9
years (Ghanaians) and after 5 years (Senegalese).
Hypothesis 2 suggests that restrictive immigration policies increase the cost of
emigration and reduce the incidence of return, and/or delay the return event. This is
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
shown to be the case for the Congolese, where the early 1990s saw a decrease in
returns from European destinations coinciding both with a toughening of admissions
policies for Congolese migrants and refugees and a worsening of the political situation
in their home country. The introduction of a visa requirement for Senegalese moving to
France in 1986 had a clear deterrent effect on departures, but no effect on returns. For
Ghanaians, the impact of the introduction of a visa requirement by the UK government
in 1990 was neutralised by the strong improvement in the economic and political
conditions in the country of origin, so there was no noticeable effect along the lines
of Hypothesis 2. In sum, the effect of host-country admissions policies on the returnmigration propensities of African migrants in Europe is not straightforward; return is,
however, strongly conditioned by the situation in the respective countries of origin.
Hypothesis 3 states that the high cost of long-distance migration enhances the positive
socio-economic selectivity of migrants, in both departure and return flows. Evidence for
this hypothesis, which relates to brain drain (departure) and brain circulation (return)
is not clear-cut across all three groups. On the whole, African migration to Europe is
a migration of skills, indicating a potential brain drain (and brain waste if the actual
jobs done involve de-skilling), but it is also the case that (at least for Ghanaians and
Congolese) those who went to Europe to study were significantly more likely to return
than those who went for other reasons (hence, brain circulation). Conversely, Congolese
who emigrated for political reasons were much less likely to return.
Hypothesis 4 examines the impact of family ties and social networks on migration
behaviour, suggesting that the end result is a pattern of ongoing transnational practices
rather than ‘pure’ family reunification in the host country or ‘pure’ and definitive return
migration. Once again, MAFE results are not unambiguous. Comparison across the three
national groups and based on various family circumstances (single vs married, presence
or absence of children, location of children in Africa or Europe etc.) suggests that the
maintenance of transnational practices is widespread and continuous. As noted already,
MAFE researchers find that transnational behaviour, such as sending remittances or
making regular visits ‘home’, is a substitute for return, or delays the return, rather than
functioning as a predictor of imminent return, as other studies have found (Constant
and Massey 2002).
MAFE results question the established assumption that family reunification in Europe
transforms African migrants into permanent settlers and also challenge the dominant
approach to family reunification policies in Europe that neglects the existence of ongoing
and possibly long-lasting transnational arrangements. González-Ferrer et al. (2014:
961) also question ‘the growing assumption that making the daily life of irregular
immigrants tougher will encourage them to “voluntarily” return to their home countries
(self-deportation), especially in a context where increasingly restrictive immigration
policies make the possibility of a second chance in Europe very unlikely’. In fact, the
effect is precisely the opposite for Congolese migrants, who are much more likely to
return to DR Congo if they have a legal status in Europe than if they do not. Evidence
from other global settings (Cape Verde, Morocco, Mexico etc.) also demonstrates
that migrants delay or cancel their plans to return when faced with more restrictive
immigration policies in destination countries (Flahaux 2015).
Although limited to three African countries, the MAFE findings on return migration
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resonate across other geographical contexts – not least because there is considerable
variety between and within the three chosen countries. Historical parallels can be found
with many earlier migrations within and into Europe (King 2000), and contemporary
parallels likewise exist with many other studies. To cite just one, Dustmann and Weiss
(2007) consider return migration from the UK based on data from the Labour Force
Survey. They consider, and offer evidence for, three hypotheses for return: higher
preferences for consumption in the home country; higher purchasing power of the
host-country currency in the home country; and the productive employment of hostcountry-acquired human capital in the home country. They also disaggregate return
flows by migrant origin, finding different results between ‘white’ migrants originating
from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East, and ‘nonwhite’ migrants from South Asia and Africa. Above all, the former have much higher
return propensities than the latter group.
Separate issues and outcomes are found where the migrants are undergoing ‘nonvoluntary’ return – for instance the ‘forced’ or so-called ‘assisted voluntary’ return of
former refugees and displaced persons, or the repatriation of failed asylum-seekers or
other migrants classed as ‘illegal’ by the host country. Here the migrants’ lack of agency
in the return decision and process creates greater difficulties of return resettlement and
socio-economic reintegration. Political and ethnic tensions may be involved, as in the
refugee return to the post-conflict Balkans (Black and Gent 2006). Here, sustainable
return is compromised by many factors: ongoing religious and ethnic tensions, the
changed nature of the ‘home’ place (where, as a result of ethnic cleansing and the
post-conflict accords, the actual return may be to a place which has been so damaged
as to be unrecognisable, or indeed to a different location), and the ongoing development
challenges of an economically poor environment. The notion of return as a successful
‘re-embedding’ may be extremely difficult to achieve, except perhaps over the very long
term (van Houte and Davids 2008).
For situations where return is voluntary, MAFE data on post-return situations show
mixed but relatively positive outcomes. Over 70 per cent of MAFE returnees take up an
economic activity on return (those who do not are either retired, unemployed or female
carers and home-makers). The most important post-return employment category is
‘self-employed’. However, further analysis of the Senegalese data reveals that selfemployment can represent more of a ‘survival strategy’ than a true entrepreneurial
spirit. This is especially the case for migrants who did not prepare well for their return, or
when the migration period was too short to accumulate sufficient savings and know-how
to set up a proper business with prospects for expansion. This situation of compulsory
self-employment might also reflect the lack of salaried opportunities in the country of
origin which are related to the knowledge, skills and aspirations of the returnee (MAFE
On a more positive note, the Senegalese survey data also show that migration and return
stimulate home-country investment. The results suggest that the nature of the migration
experience stimulates investment in assets but that its role varies according to the type
of migration. Business owners are predominantly returnees who had migrated within
Africa, whereas living in or returning from Europe increases the likelihood of investment
in land or property. Moreover, migration and return help to overcome disadvantages in
access to asset ownership, especially for women and less-educated individuals (Mezger
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Kveder and Beauchemin 2015).
The potential for intra-EU mobility of third-country nationals
The return migration decision is not simply one based on ‘return’ vs ‘stay abroad’.
As we saw from sections 2.2 and 2.3, migration flows into and within Europe have
become much more complex than the bi-polar A to B, followed by a possible return
from B back to A. One of the most original and interesting MAFE outputs is a study
of ‘onward migration’ in Europe, specifically the case of Senegalese movements
between France, Italy and Spain (Toma and Castagnone 2015). The migrants follow
economic opportunities, especially those in lower-skilled and insecure job sectors,
and family networks within the evolving Senegalese diaspora. This finding suggests
that ‘the development of legal measures to facilitate intra-EU mobility of migrant
workers already residing in the member states should also target the low-skilled and
recent migrants… who… represent the largest component of the demand for labour
force in Europe’ (Toma and Castagnone 2015: 84).
4.6 Mobilising the diaspora: co-development and hometown
Diasporas are long-established emigrant communities, often scattered in several
locations, whose members retain a strong sense of their ethnic identity and, in most
cases, a material and emotional commitment to their homeland (Cohen 2008). According
to a feature article in the Economist (19 November 2011), the ‘magic of diasporas’ is
that they have always been a significant economic force, as the history of many groups
– the Jews, Huguenots, Armenians and others – demonstrates. The cheapness and speed
of modern travel and communications have made diaspora networks even more potent,
both in terms of economic activities and for the circulation of knowledge and the arts.
Diasporas tend to be stable over time because their members generally do not return
to the diasporic homeland. For those who are unable or unwilling to return home, there
are other ways in which their contribution to development can be effected beyond the
sending of private remittances to their family members. Recent trends in the literature
and policy on migration and development focus on three fields of action:
the general policy of mobilising the diaspora, mainly driven by sending-
country governments anxious to tap into an alternative source of investment funds and human-capital experiences;
the strategy of co-development, which involves partnership between migrant groups and both receiving- and home-country institutions and associations; and
hometown associations, which are voluntary associations of migrants, deriving from the same place of origin, who club together to fund local development projects in their home communities.
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In recent years, sending-country governments have put in place an array of initiatives
designed to harness the potential of diaspora members to contribute to the development
of their origin countries. Collyer (2013: 7) comments on how ‘emigration states’ have
instrumentalised the elite term ‘diaspora’ to mobilise funds and other contributions for
development, preferring it over ‘migrants’ (still infused with meanings of poverty and
desperation) or ‘transnational actors’ (which no-one outside of academia understands).
Diaspora implies both a historically embedded social formation of quasi-permanent
residents and their descendants abroad, and (after Brubaker 2005: 12) a ‘community
of practice… an idiom, a stance, a claim’. Even though diasporans may never intend
to return (or they keep the possibility of return as an open option for an undisclosed
future), they are, by virtue of the definition of diaspora, oriented towards the welfare
and improvement of their homeland, and therefore disposed to make a contribution to
its development.
What kinds of contribution can they be expected to make beyond sending personal
remittances and returning for good? Pooling the typologies of various authors (de Haas
2006; Sørensen 2007; Brinkerhoff 2008; Newland and Tanaka 2010), the following are
the main types of contribution:
setting up entrepreneurial activities in home countries, perhaps through joint business ventures with locals or returnees;
investment in the business developments of others, including state projects;
philanthropic ventures – setting up charitable foundations or making donations to emergency funds;
‘diasporic volunteering’ – mainly younger diasporans devoting a certain period of time to ‘voluntary service overseas’ (VSO) work, with the diasporic homeland as the chosen destination;
training and mentoring visits – diaspora professionals come to the homeland for short-term stays (ranging from one week to several months) to teach, train, direct and collaborate.
Like the very concept of diaspora, the literature on these diasporic development
experiences is very scattered, with multiple examples. One of the longest established is
the UNDP’s TOKTEN scheme (Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Networks) which
has successfully channelled thousands of diaspora experts into short-term development
placements in their countries of origin.
Whilst there are many channels for diaspora engagement, the process is far from
straightforward and many barriers can get in the way. These include a lack of
sustained commitment on the part of home-country governments (many diaspora
initiatives tend to be short-lived); a lack of knowledge of designing effective diaspora
mobilisation programmes; and a lack of accurate and timely information on schemes
and opportunities available in the home country to attract the attention of diasporans.
Moreover emigrants and diasporic people do not always enjoy the best relations with
homeland authorities. There may be political and/or ethnic cleavages and low levels of
trust in the ability of governments to act effectively and without corruptive influences.
Likewise homeland governments may view diasporas with suspicion and antagonism,
fearful of their potential for fomenting political opposition. Ultimately the main challenge
is to achieve an effective and flexible matching mechanism where there is a productive
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
synergy between the development and human-capital needs of the origin country and
the supply of diaspora members willing to invest, donate, visit or contribute in some way
(IOM 2010: 50–52).
The French experience with co-development
One promising model of diaspora involvement is the co-development strategy
promoted by French migration and development planners in the 1990s and since. The
underlying principle is that migrants are central actors in the development process in
both the receiving and origin countries, and that their potential contribution should
be recognised and encouraged. French co-development thinking has two official
priorities (de Haas 2006: 70–71). The first, which is based on a sceptical reading
of the effectiveness of individual remittance transfers, seen as destined mainly
for consumption and housing, attempts to channel the remittances towards more
productive investments by offering institutional help and guarantees. The second
policy thrust is to mobilise the expertise of the diasporic elite, based on the belief
that many highly educated, skilled and wealthy migrants are willing to offer their
expertise and experience to their country of origin on a time-limited basis – i.e.
without actually moving there – for instance on short-term missions supported by the
French government. The co-development model has also gained popularity in other
countries, for instance Italy, where Marini’s (2014) study of Ghanaian hometown
associations reveals positive effects not only on development in Ghana but also on
migrants’ integration in Italy.
Hometown associations (HTAs) are vehicles for the transmission and investment
of collective remittances, a particular type of remittance noted above (section 4.3).
Collective remittances pool together contributions from migrant members originating
from the same place of origin, and are usually saved and accumulated over a period of
time (several months or years) in order to fund what is perceived as a desirable public
project in the home community – such as a school, health centre or access road, or
the provision or improvement of a community building such as a town hall or place of
worship. However HTAs can also act quickly by collecting donations in the event of an
emergency such as an earthquake or climatic disaster.
The literature on HTAs is relatively recent and is heavily biased towards the American
experience, and especially Mexico, where the tres por uno policy has received much
attention (Aparicio and Meseguer 2012). This scheme matches every HTA-remitted
dollar with three more coming from the Mexican federal, state and municipal authorities.
HTAs have received increasing attention in recent years from the development-policy
community which considers them as potential successful actors in leveraging investment
funds directed to resource-poor migrant-sending communities. This beneficial effect is
tempered by some potentially negative outcomes. For Mexico, Aparicio and Meseguer
(2012) found that, unsurprisingly, high-emigration municipalities were more likely to be
part of the ‘3x1’ scheme, but that it tended to accentuate existing wealth differences
between municipalities. This occurs because of mechanisms already explained in
section 4.2, namely that very poor people do not migrate, whereas less-poor people
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can. Given that migration leads to financial improvement, of both the migrants and,
via remittances, their home communities, then those municipalities with high rates of
emigration, and hence larger inflows of remittances, will prosper more than those which
have high numbers of non-migrating poor people.
Elsewhere, evidence exists that collective remittances create a substitution effect by
relieving the state of the burden of public investment. Where projects are designed
by HTA donors from abroad, they may serve private agendas, be ill-conceived, lack
effective follow-through and even be abandoned. Benefits may be narrowly distributed
and aggravate social divisions within the community (Chauvet et al. 2013: 2–3).
Hometown associations in Mali
A case-study of Malian HTAs produced as part of the NOPOOR research programme
demonstrates the more positive outcomes of this kind of initiative (Chauvet et al.
2013). Researchers examined the activities of more than 400 HTAs established by
Malians in France since the 1980s. Comparisons were made between towns/villages
in Mali with an HTA located in France, and those without – respectively termed
‘treated’ and ‘control’ villages. Significant differences were found between ‘treated’
villages in terms of their endowment of three kinds of public good (schools, health
clinics and water facilities) compared to the control villages. The analysis is based
on a linkage between the register of Malian HTAs in France and records of village
facilities traced through successive Malian censuses (1987, 1998 and 2009).
The results show a steady expansion of schools and health centres over the entire
period since 1987, with water amenities more concentrated in the second intercensual period (1998–2009). Treated villages are on average larger than control
villages, and have experienced faster demographic growth since 1987; they are
concentrated in the Kayes district of western Mali, the source of most Malian
migration to France in the 1960s and 1970s when the bulk of the migration occurred.
The authors carried out a so-called ‘difference-in-differences’ analysis, comparing
localities with and without an HTA, and trends before (1976–87) and after (1987–
2009) HTAs developed. The findings reveal a different pattern for each of the public
facilities sectors. For schools, the contrast in the educational endowment of treated
and control villages remained roughly constant before and after HTAs came on the
scene. For water facilities, treated villages advanced their already-existing superior
endowment, so that the effect of HTA investments was to exacerbate inter-village
inequalities in water provision. For health centres, the reverse was found: here,
treated villages were previously disadvantaged, but HTA activity compensated so
that the treated villages caught up.
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
4.7 Skilled migration and the dilemmas of brain drain
One of the most controversial issues within the migration–development nexus is the
spectre of brain drain – the damaging loss to less-developed countries of disproportionate
shares of their highly educated personnel. Brain drain is a key element of the pessimistic
interpretation of the migration–development relationship noted earlier (4.1). Brain
drain implies two things: significant depletion of the highly educated population due to
emigration, and adverse economic, social and cultural consequences as a result (Lucas
2005: 117). The impact is considered especially severe when the outflow concerns key
professions such as health and education, which are fundamental components of a
population’s long-term human development and well-being.
There is, and has been for some time, a wide-ranging global debate on brain drain.
Some of the key elements of this debate, and its policy implications, can be traced
through successive volumes of the IOM’s World Migration Report (see IOM 2003: 215–
238, 2008: 51–71, 2010: 55–56) as well as in other key international policy documents
such as Ellerman’s background paper for the World Bank (2003: 29–37) and the Global
Commission’s Report on International Migration (2005: 23–32).
At the heart of this debate lies a global irony. The less-developed countries are more
interested in promoting the migration of their low-skilled workers. These are the workers
who seem to be ‘unwanted’ in the global North, according to both political rhetoric and
migration control policies, even though there are several labour sectors that depend
on such migrant workers – construction, agriculture, care work, low-status service
labour etc. Instead, Europe and the rest of the global North is increasingly engaged in a
global competition, almost a race, for talent; in the words of Kapur and McHale (2005),
‘Give us your best and brightest’. Yet these are the highly educated workers whom the
underdeveloped countries least want to lose. Put another way, the nub of the brain-drain
dilemma is to respect the rights of talented people to move internationally, whilst also
guarding against the loss of educated and specialised labour that this might entail for
the sending country.
There are three principal policy arenas which have the potential to provide a regulatory
framework that contains the scale of brain and skills loss and generates benefits for
source countries (Lowell et al. 2004):
the adoption of bilateral and multilateral agreements to harmonise balanced ethical recruitment and training policies;
the management of return migration for effective development; and
the fostering of the transfer of skills, knowledge and remittances (including social remittances) by diasporas.
A possible fourth approach, restricting brain outflows, is sometimes put forward, but this
conflicts with the human right to leave one’s country.
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The cost of brain drain
World Bank and other survey data reveal the quantitative extent of the phenomenon,
as well as the power of the telling anecdote. Although only one in ten of all highly
skilled54 persons from the underdeveloped world lives in Europe and North America,
the ratio is much higher in certain sending countries in Africa, Latin America and
Oceania, especially where countries are rather small, and also much higher in
certain fields. For instance, it is estimated that 30–50 per cent of the developing
world’s population trained in science and technology live in the developed world
(Lowell et al. 2004). Jamaica loses four out of every five doctors it trains, mainly
to the US (Ellerman 2003: 31), whilst it is claimed that there are more Malawian
doctors in Manchester than in Malawi itself! (Global Commission on International
Migration 2005: 24). World rankings on the percentage of tertiary-educated persons
living abroad are upwards of 70 per cent for several Caribbean and Pacific Ocean
countries (Guyana 89, Jamaica 85, Haiti 84, Samoa 76, Tonga 75) and are also very
high for several larger African countries (Cape Verde 68, Ghana 47, Mozambique
45, Kenya 38)55.
Data from the FP7 projects EUMAGINE and MAFE provide specific details on the education/
skill mix of migration flows into Europe in recent years, testing the general hypothesis
of a positive relationship between education and migration propensity. EUMAGINE
examined the migration aspirations, not the actual behaviour, of approximately 7,500
18–39 year-olds in four countries of high migration experience and pressure to Europe:
Turkey, Morocco, Senegal and Ukraine. The hypothesis is most clearly upheld for Turkey,
except at the highest level of education (15–23 years of education), where the curve of
association flattens off and becomes slightly negative. The reasoning for this is as follows
(de Clerck et al. 2012: 21). The highest-educated individuals in Turkey can find better
economic and social opportunities in the country’s now-booming economy than if they
had emigrated. Meanwhile, the lowest-educated have lower capabilities and therefore
lower aspirations to migrate. Hence, in the Turkish case, those with intermediate-to-high
levels of education have the highest migration aspirations.
A similar pattern seems to hold for Morocco and Senegal, but the results are statistically
non-significant. Morocco is quite similar to Turkey in its correlation profile, although
the association is weaker. Senegal has substantial numbers of people in the survey
population with no years (or virtually none) of schooling who have no thoughts of
emigration; then migration aspirations rise but they level off at younger ages and fewer
school years than in Turkey and Morocco. Ukraine is different again: here, virtually all
of the population aged 18–39 has at least eight years of education, and migration
aspirations are fairly uniform across years of education above the universal level.
MAFE survey data support the view that African migration to Europe is essentially a
migration of skills, as noted already. Possession of tertiary education is a strong predictor
The conventional and basic definition of the highly skilled is those with at least two years of tertiary education (IOM 2008: 52). More comprehensive definitions combine higher education with occupations
of a professional, managerial, scientific/technical and entrepreneurial/business nature.
For the full rankings, see the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook (2011: 9, 11).
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
of actual migration to Europe. This is especially the case for highly educated Ghanaians
and Congolese (who are eight times more likely to migrate to Europe than those without
higher education); less so for the Senegalese (twice as likely) (MAFE 2013b: Fig. 1).
There were, however, substantial variations in the relationship between migration and
education level across the various origin–destination flows (see MAFE 2013a: Fig 4).
We note a broad contrast between the ‘old’, former colonial destinations in Europe (the
UK for Ghanaians, France for Senegalese, Belgium for Congolese) which have attracted
proportionately more higher-educated migrants, and the ‘new’ destinations (Italy and
Spain) where the migrants (mostly Senegalese) have much lower levels of education.
Some specific examples (figures in brackets are the percentages of migrants with higher
education): Ghanaians in the UK (69), Congolese in Belgium (60), Congolese in the UK
(40), Ghanaians in the Netherlands (35), and Senegalese in France (30), Italy (12) and
Spain (3).
Where the higher education was obtained also made a difference. Migrants who had
received at least some of their higher education after arrival in Europe were much more
likely to enter skilled work than those who arrived from a skilled job or tertiary course in
Africa. MAFE data suggest, therefore, that the notable increase in African highly skilled
workers in Europe in recent years is mainly associated with the entry into the labour
market of already-resident students. Indeed, studying for a third-level qualification in
Europe seems to be the most common route through which African migrants access
better-status work whilst in Europe (MAFE 2013d).
Broadly speaking, the outlook for African return migrants from Europe was positive
across the three MAFE countries, with more returnees employed in intermediate and
high-level employment upon return than when they left Europe (see also section
4.5 above). However, a non-negligible number of respondents were unemployed or
economically inactive after return (this could include some who had retired). Overall,
the MAFE data provide evidence of a modest ‘brain gain’ due to migration – although
the labour-market reintegration of returnees did tend to mirror their respective preemigration occupation status. Especially for Ghana, returnees’ share of intermediate
and high-skilled occupations increases after return, also when compared to their preemigration status (MAFE 2013d). This could be due to the fact that many Ghanaians
study as well as work abroad, giving them extra qualifications and work experience to
boost their employment status once they return.
MAFE’s specific finding that those migrating for educational reasons were found to be
more likely to return to Africa than other migrant categories favours the suggestion that
policies promoting student mobility and exchange could be implemented to encourage
‘brain circulation’ (MAFE 2013b). A parallel or integrated policy to foster brain circulation
at the more senior level of academic and research staff could be also be implemented,
with staff exchanges, joint appointments between European and African (or other
‘Southern’) universities, and research collaborations – the MAFE project itself being an
excellent example!
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4.8 European perspectives on migration and development: a
global approach
Despite a decade and a half of intense debate on the migration–development nexus and
a longer and more fragmented history of discussion on how migration and development
might be related to each other, there are few stable coordinates of widely accepted
understanding. Between the optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, the jury is still out. Few
generalisations go uncontested, except that macro-scale processes such as globalisation,
ongoing inequality within and between countries, and changing technologies of travel
and communication continue to shape global and European migration dynamics.
This much we know. Migrants from both within and outside Europe bring their labour,
skills and knowledge to the countries they settle in. Many contribute to the development
of their home countries through sending remittances, investing in businesses, giving
to charities and emergency funds, and bringing their enhanced knowledge, skills and
experience back through return visits and resettlement. But we also know that migration
heightens economic dependency, leads to the loss of productive energy and talent from
sending countries, often intensifies rather than diminishes inequality, and produces
suffering, separation and tragedy.
Researchers and policy experts are also unsure exactly how important the migration–
development relationship is and how it should be configured. Skeldon, despite having
written the first, and still one of the few, books on global migration and development
(Skeldon 1997), more recently wonders whether the whole notion of migration as a force
for development is just ‘a passing phase’ (2008). De Haas (2012) points out that the
business of migration’s contribution to development is more an obsession of migration
specialists, with development scholars remaining rather detached. As a result, we still
know rather little about development’s impact on migration – what we might call the
‘development–migration nexus’. Amongst the United Nations’ Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs), specified in 2000 to be achieved by 2015, there was no mention of
the potential of migration to address several of the goals, such as poverty reduction,
improved education and health, and gender equality. This oversight was lamented
by migration organisations such as the IOM (eg. IOM 2013: 181) and, with the MDG
deadline approaching, there have been explicit calls for migration to be factored into the
post-2015 development agenda (Laczko and Lönnback 2013).
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the United Nations
Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, partly rectifies this situation
by including migration in one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely
in SDG 10 on reducing inequality within and between countries. More specifically,
this SDG aims to facilitate the ‘orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and
mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed
migration policies’. Migration-related issues appear also under other SDGs.
Meanwhile, on the side of what might be called the international migration studies
and policy community, and despite its multi-institutional and often competing character,
there has been a remarkably consistent belief that migration can be both an effective
route out of poverty for migrants and their families (whether their families stay behind
or move with them), and a stimulus for development in the migrants’ countries of origin
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
under certain conditions. We find this collective optimism expressed in the following
successive IOM ‘World Migration’ reports – seven to date (2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013);
the establishment of the Global Commission on International Migration in 2003, followed by the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (meetings in 2006 and 2013) which, in turn, set in train the Global Forum on Migration and Development (six meetings so far) – see Global Commission on International Migration (2005) for an overview of this line of thinking;
the United Nations Development Programme, whose 2009 Human Development Report focused in depth on how migration/mobility contributes to human development (UNDP 2009);
the World Bank, whose Migration and Remittances Factbook (World Bank 2011) and many other publications clearly signal the role of migration and remittances in alleviating poverty and assisting development in different parts of the world;
the UK’s Department for International Development, whose Moving Out of Poverty – Making Migration Work Better for Poor People also drew attention to the lack of reference to migration in the MDGs (DFID 2007: 11–12);
academic and policy-relevant research sponsored by DFID, such as the Sussex-based Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, whose final report Making Migration Work for Development (Black 2009) echoed and enlarged upon many of the findings and recommendations in DFID (2007);
and, as a final example, European Commission-sponsored research, like MAFE and NOPOOR, whose results have been cited frequently in this chapter.
Compared to this emerging international policy orthodoxy on migration’s positive
contribution to origin-country development and the well-being of migrants, the EU’s
approach to migration ‘as’ development has been more cautious, caught between the
‘Europeanist’ strategy of EU enlargement, integration and intra-EU free mobility on the
one hand, and the rather different logic of security and control over immigration from
‘third countries’ on the other.
The European Commission’s first communication relating to migration and development
was issued in 2002 (see CEC 2002): this presented development mainly in relation
to migration control. More concrete statements came in 2005 with the Green Paper
On an EU Approach to Managing Economic Migration (CEC 2005c) and Migration and
Development: Some Concrete Orientations (CEC 2005a). The first of these was, as its
title states, about migration management but contained a list of questions relating
to return migration, remittances and brain circulation. The second communication
represented a step-change in mainstreaming migration into development policy and
assistance to third countries. Key themes were facilitating the faster and cheaper
transfer of remittances, enhancing the role of diasporas in home-country development,
encouraging circular migration and mitigating the adverse effects of brain drain. A
subsequent Commission paper, Maximising the Development Impact of Migration (EC
2013) took the debate one stage further, focusing this time on internal migration in the
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South, the impact of climate change, country-of-origin development perspectives, and
mobility management, and was framed within a discourse on migrants’ rights.
These policy statements and developments can be seen within the wider context of the
EU’s Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM), launched in 2005 and revamped
in 2011 (see EC 2011a). This comprehensive agenda for migration management contains
four equally important pillars: i) better organisation of legal migration and fostering
managed mobility; ii) preventing and combatting irregular migration, and eradicating
trafficking in human beings; iii) promoting international protection and enhancing the
external dimension of asylum; and iv) maximising the development impact of migration
and mobility. In the 27 June 2014 conclusions of the European Council (EUCO 79/14),
it was stated that ‘Migration policies must become a much stronger integral part of the
Union’s external and development policies, applying the “more for more” principle and
building on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility’.
By contrast, the most recent communication, A European Agenda on Migration (EC
2015), responds to the emerging situation in the Mediterranean and has a different set
of priorities, including reducing the incentives for irregular migration, targeting criminal
smuggling networks, securing external borders by tripling the budget for Frontex and
moving towards a stronger common asylum policy and a new policy for legal migration.
Under the last of these, priority areas are harmonising skilled migration with skill gaps
via a more effective Blue Card system, a review of visa policy, further development of
mobility partnerships (originally set out in EC 2011b), echoing earlier statements about
faster and cheaper remittance channels, and encouraging mobility within the South to
enhance local development.
Some of these issues will be picked up for further discussion in the concluding chapter,
but two themes which resonate through recent Commission communications can be
highlighted in advance, because they correspond to ongoing FP7 projects. The first is
South-South migration illustrated through the RURBANAFRICA project. Based on field
studies in four Sub-Saharan countries (Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania),
RURBANAFRICA dispels two important stereotypes about African migration: that
Africans are migrating en masse to Europe, and that all internal movement is ruralurban migration. The research team construct a 4x4 typology of migration/mobility
based on the two axes of temporality (daily, short-term, seasonal, long-term) and
directionality (rural-urban, urban-rural, rural-rural and urban-urban). What emerges is a
matrix of 16 mobility types reflecting the complex and changing reality of Sub-Saharan
African family livelihoods. A key finding relates to changing gendered mobility regimes.
Traditional patterns of spatial mobility were male-dominated; nowadays mobility
patterns are increasingly feminised, resulting in greater shares of women, particularly
younger women, moving independently in search of work and trading opportunities (van
Lindent et al. (2013).
The second common theme is the push for circular migration, which seems to be the
current fashion amongst both European and global policy commentators. For instance,
the Global Commission on International Migration (2005: 31) stated ‘The old paradigm
of permanent migrant settlement is progressively giving way to temporary and circular
migration’, and went on to underline ‘the need to grasp the developmental opportunities
that this important shift in migration patterns provides for countries of origin’. As was
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
pointed out earlier (section 2.3), circular migration is part of the changing time-space
dynamics of global and European migration. Understanding the main drivers of circular
migration, and its effects on the lives of migrant and non-migrant workers, their families
and their employers, are the main objectives of the ongoing TEMPER Project.
Migration and development: key policy implications and recommendations
The main policy areas to be developed in order to contain the scale of brain and skills
loss in countries of origin are:
the adoption of bilateral and multilateral agreements to harmonise balanced ethical recruitment and training schemes;
the management of return migration for effective development in migrants’ home countries; and
fostering of the transfer of skills, knowledge and remittances (including social remittances) by diasporas.
Policy-makers working in development cooperation should be aware that bringing
about a certain level of social and economic development to a country may enable
more people to migrate (rather than leading to a reduction in the pressure to migrate).
It is only at a later stage of development, that people become sufficiently well-off not
to need to migrate to improve their material well-being.
Research found that those migrating for educational reasons are more likely to return
to Africa than other migrant categories, thus favouring the suggestion that policies
promoting student mobility and exchange could be implemented to encourage ‘brain
Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
Migration is the most pressing challenge facing the EU today. Over the longer term,
Europe’s ageing population may prove to be more important, but there are linkages
between these two mega-issues, as was pointed out in Chapter 1. The two obvious
linkages are the need to rejuvenate working populations and the need for care workers
for the elderly. But there may be many other labour-market shortages, at different skill
levels ranging from neuro-surgeons to fruit-pickers, where migrants will play a key role
in sustaining European economies and societies.
History has shown how migration has enriched the continent both economically and
culturally. It will continue to do so. The question of how much migration will take place
is very uncertain because migration flows are difficult to predict. Some migration factors
are relatively constant, such as demographic trends and economic inequality. Others
vary across time, sometimes cyclically, like the sectoral mismatches of labour demand
and supply. But two critically important structuring factors are unpredictable: the flaring
up of refugee-producing ‘hot-spots’ such as Syria, currently, and Iraq and Afghanistan in
the recent past, and the imposition of migration controls by receiving countries.
One set of forecasts to 2052 by Bijak et al. (2008) foresees the stabilisation of East–
West and South–North intra-European flows, and an increasing role, therefore, for extraEuropean flows in overall population change. Particular pressure will be put on Central
and South-Eastern European countries, both as transit spaces to the West (as we are
witnessing today) and as new migration destinations. In their ‘base’ or medium scenario,
Bijak et al. (2008) predict net immigration already by 2020 for all EU countries except
Bulgaria and Romania56.
From a global perspective, Europe is already a diverse region, due to its considerable
immigrant and migrant-heritage populations, and is currently facing large-scale flows of
incoming asylum-seekers. This review has confirmed that the EU needs a more coherent
migration policy, and more high-quality research evidence of a large-scale comparative
nature to help to improve policies directly related to the realities of migration in a
pragmatic way.
It is equally important to stress that migration is not an isolated issue to be tackled by a
single-shot policy. Migration is part of the lives of us all in Europe, whether we ourselves
have moved or not. Therefore managing migration must also include flanking policies
and strategies which deal with related issues, but in an integrated way.
This review is concluded by summaries of the main findings in each of the three
substantive chapters. The report’s main concern is with legal migration, but it is
impossible to ignore the unfolding refugee crisis. The overall narrative seeks to highlight
the way in which the realities of migration can be turned towards a shared benefit
for Europe, for the migrants who arrive, circulate, return or settle, and for the origin
countries of the migrants. As the European Agenda on Migration states (EC 2015: 2),
there is an immediate necessity both to save lives and improve the life chances of up
to an estimated 350,000 to 450,000 refugees currently knocking on Europe’s door, with
no doubt more to come, and to maintain and develop the long-term vision of the EU as
a safe, prosperous and diverse continent that values human rights and freedoms.
This may need to be adjusted in the light of the length and depth of the economic crisis in Southern and some Eastern European countries. Croatia was not included in the forecasts.
5.1 Flows and policies
New and more diverse types of migration have emerged in recent years, with greater
suddenness and unpredictability, and following new as well as well-trodden migration
pathways. Taken together, the research projects reviewed confirm that the EU is facing
the reality of ‘mixed migration’ (Van Hear 2010: 1535) and that this reality requires a
new kind of theoretical thinking and new empirical research strategies. It also requires
new policy responses ranging from global negotiations and armed-conflict mitigation to
measures which support specific localities, regions and countries facing new migration
flows, both arriving and passing through.
This means that the migration challenge serves as a catalyst to strengthen the role
of the EU and its global influence – negotiating with world military power centres and
international organisations. Locally it means greater solidarity between EU Member
States to support situations where local and regional capabilities are overwhelmed by
the task at hand. The obvious examples here are the front-line states like Italy, Malta,
Greece and Hungary which are faced with large-scale arrivals highly concentrated in
space (as on small islands) or time (within a few days or even hours). The result, as the
recent Hungarian experience shows, is local reactive measures which are inconsistent
with European and global humanitarian principles.
The geographies and typologies of flows are changing and diversifying. Evidence from
several projects – especially MAFE, EUMARGINS and TEMPER – has shown that, once in
Europe, and even before they arrive, migrants engage in transit and onward migration.
Simple binary matrices of origin and destination countries no longer suffice to capture
these types of movement. Such serial mobility is especially typical of those who are
less-skilled and in search of low-skilled, often temporary, jobs, and who often have a
status that is irregular or semi-irregular.
Onward migration, based on information flowing through social networks, can be a
perfectly rational strategy of trying out opportunities for work and livelihood in various
countries. This type of migration clearly needs more research, as it sits uneasily with
most of the current integration-related policies and measures. On the other hand, this
type of migration is also linked to restrictive immigration policies, the demand for cheap
labour in sectors like agriculture and construction, and migrants’ adaptive responses to
economic crisis and unemployment.
As new migration destinations in the EU are opened up, first in Southern Europe in the
1990s and 2000s, and now in the post-2004 accession states in Central and Eastern
Europe, both the migrants and the responsible authorities may need solidarity and
support in responding to the challenges of being new immigrants in a new immigration
In addition to changing geographies of flows, the temporalities of migration have also
changed, as revealed by MAFE, TEMPER, EURA-NET and TRANS-NET research. These
changes affect both less-skilled and highly skilled migrants, and both young and older
people. For instance, students, business people, care workers and other service providers
need flexible policy solutions in order to avoid slipping into an irregular status. The
proposal for a Touring Visa seems a sensible response. Similarly, retirement and lifestyle
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
migration also requires new policy solutions to ensure safe and legal possibilities for
remaining in the EU.
Some of the projects reviewed, as well as the EU’s own common vision of its migration
policy, emphasise support for circular migration. However, ongoing research from the
TEMPER and EURA-NET projects will provide more nuanced and comparative data to
understand how circular and temporary migration flows can be linked to the ideals of
social integration and the social protection of migrant workers and their families. The
aspired-for triple-win scenario of circular migration’s benefits for all – migrants, host
and home countries – cannot be taken for granted.
In terms of return flows and their interaction with policies, the most crucial finding was
provided by the MAFE project: contrary to popular opinion, secure legal status in the
host society increases the propensity to return amongst African migrants in Europe.
This means that, if the EU and its Member States want to promote return migration,
providing legal status for migrants is the best policy.
The realities of family reunification flows – a highly sensitive issue in EU policy circles
– have now been better documented thanks to MAFE’s research. Further research
should focus on how to depoliticise media and public opinion and counter detrimental
myths about these flows. More in-depth findings are needed regarding family traditions,
‘arranged’ marriages and gender roles.
While skilled migration has usually been seen as a privileged and unproblematic flow
of ‘wanted’ migrants enjoying good public and policy support, the NEUJOBS project
demonstrated how fragile these assumptions are when put to the test. The Blue Card
privileges are quite limited and burdened by the regulations of individual countries;
hence the take-up of this scheme has been way below expectation. Policies for highly
skilled migrants need revision so that they actually serve the purpose of attracting the
skilled and talented to Europe, as well as allowing for ‘brain circulation’ through ethical
Finally, the EUMARGINS and FIDUCIA projects provide evidence of how restrictive
immigration policies are linked to irregular migration in complex ways. This is a particularly
difficult challenge at the EU level, especially when it comes to new ‘transnational’
crimes such as human trafficking and cross-border smuggling. These situations require
targeted research and criminal investigation to uncover such activities, perhaps with the
cooperation of NGOs. The objective should be to bring to court the criminals, not the
victims or clients.
5.2 The multiple challenges of integration
European societies are facing increasing ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, and
host-country reactions thus vary according to their historical experience of immigration,
related partly to their variable colonial experiences, and to the particular social, political
and ideological self-image they have developed – for instance, as ethno-nationalist or
multicultural societies.
In terms of economic integration and the fiscal outcomes of migration, it is an ongoing
challenge to rebuff the myth of migrants as a burden to the country. Evidence from
NORFACE and other research (especially Dustmann and Frattini 2014) reveals the fiscal
outcome to be, on balance, neutral but also crucially dependent on the type of migration
and the age and family structure of the immigrant population. Young, economically
active and high-skilled migrants are net contributors to the economy; those who are
unemployed or elderly, or who have young families, may be a net drain on the welfare
The other side of the coin is that economic integration may be severely hampered
by xenophobia and discrimination – against both migrants and their host-country-born
offspring – resulting in the downgrading of skills and qualifications and unfavourable
outcomes in comparison to ‘native’ workers. Research for EUMARGINS, SEARCH and
TRANS-NET sheds light on these negative outcomes.
For socio-cultural integration, EUMARGINS’ findings remind us how complex the
integration process is in both time and space. The same group/nationality of migrants
can be included or excluded in different areas and this can also change over time. Also
highly relevant to this debate is the notion of differential exclusion/inclusion (Castles
1995), so that integration should not be thought of as a linear process but more as a
multi-faceted mosaic of shifting experiences.
Besides, the social and cultural dimensions of integration are heavily influenced by
public attitudes and a priori assumptions that some migrants are intrinsically ‘less
able’ to integrate than others to the norms and values of the host society. This can
lead to a self-fulfilling negative prophecy. Once again, NORFACE research in this area is
incisive: those Europeans who are more tolerant towards immigrants are likely to have
all or some of the following characteristics: higher education, higher income, experience
of living abroad and positive trust in their national system of governance (Paas and
Halapuu 2012).
Therefore, policy-makers who aim to improve socio-cultural integration should not
only target immigrants as a separate segment of society, but also develop a holistic
approach towards the entire country’s population. Both ACCEPT PLURALISM and SEARCH
highlight the key role of better education and communication strategies, and thereby
target schools and workplaces as the best spatial settings for better cross-cultural
The spatial dimension of integration is often overlooked, yet it is where integration
‘happens’ on a daily basis – in schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces and leisure venues.
The housing market, rather than ethnic minorities’ inherent wish to self-segregate, is
the key to explaining residential segregation in cities. GEITONIES has pushed forward
this important research and policy agenda, drawing attention to the need for multipronged but integrated policy measures to counter the multiple disadvantage that being
in the ‘wrong’ school in the ‘wrong’ neighbourhood can confer. Priority should be given to
making under-performing schools, especially those with high ratios of immigrant-origin
pupils, sufficiently attractive to appeal to all population groups in the area. According
to EDUMIGROM, diversifying the school teaching personnel has positive outcomes
on student performance. The findings of WWWforEUROPE argue for a multi-level
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
governance approach, from supra-national to local, with special emphasis on regions
and districts, to tackle spatial enclosure and blocked integration for migrants.
Finally, integration was often found to be at base a political and, moreover, a politicised
issue. The SOM project, which analysed the media’s treatment of migration and related
political issues across several countries, found anti-immigration discourse highly
variable between countries. A key finding was the persistent targeting and politicisation
of Muslim migrants, noting that the vision of ‘them’, ‘the Muslims’, is largely shaped by
non-Muslim actors.
5.3 Can migration be an agent for development?
There is little doubt that migration – especially labour migration and highly skilled
migration – can favour the development of receiving countries. There is less agreement
on how migration impacts on development in migrant-sending countries. Both theory
and empirical evidence give rise to alternating optimism and pessimism.
However, there is broad and convincing evidence that migration has been, for many
millions of migrants from many countries, an effective route out of poverty (Black 2009).
In another essay, Black (2011) makes the argument that migration should be regarded
as a global ‘public good’ insofar as there is enough evidence, in his view, that migration
‘works’ – both for the improvement in the livelihoods of migrants and their families,
and for the development of their countries of origin. Put another way, ‘migration is
development’ (Sutherland 2013; emphasis added).
It needs to be stressed that this positive narrative of the migration–development nexus
is far from universally accepted. It is countered from two sides: first from those who
see migration as a form not of development but of underdevelopment and dependency,
and second by those who argue strongly for the control and diminution of migration by
addressing its ‘root causes’ via aid and investment in the source countries. This debate
will run and run!
Certainly, evidence that remittances alleviate poverty in the home communities and
countries is now widespread, including research from the MAFE, NOPOOR and SEARCH
projects. This positive impact of remittances is sensitive to need, helping residual
households through difficult moments, and can be effective in stimulating development
on a broader front, sometimes coordinated by co-development and hometown initiatives.
In the case of social remittances – the transfer of ideas, behaviours and practices, and
thus with the potential to lead to broader and generally positive social transformations
– more studies are needed to tease out the effects of class, family and gender relations.
Social remittances should also be seen in the broader light of democratisation processes
and the political engagement of migrants in the modernisation of their home societies.
Return is another important aspect of development policy, although often the rhetorical
potential is far from realised, especially where returning migrants have done only lowskilled jobs abroad and hence bring back minimal financial and human capital. MAFE
research found that the best return and reintegration outcomes were amongst those
who had prepared for their return in terms of accumulating savings and skills, and who
had been abroad, as legal migrants, for 3–10 years. But MAFE also found that African
migrants often preferred to use visits home as a substitute for, or as a means of putting
off, the definitive return.
Taken in the round, MAFE and other research reviewed in Chapter 4 seems to indicate
the following stages in the interactive migration–development nexus. First, migration
can be considered as a response to the condition of poverty and underdevelopment,
although it is not usually the poorest of the poor who migrate internationally. Migration
can be seen as an escape from poverty, and there are developmental possibilities for
the country of origin which can be stimulated by remittances, return and investment
from the diaspora.
The big question is, what happens next? Does the development which is (potentially)
actioned by migration lead to more, or to less, migration? The evidence is mixed. Most
recent studies and overviews (Black 2009, 2011; de Haas 2010, 2012) tend to the view
that development leads, if anything, to more migration, since it provides more people
with the incentive and the material and social resources to take the plunge. But findings
from the EUMAGINE study on aspirations to migrate indicate the reverse: migration
propensity is correlated inversely with income. So the policy implication here is that,
if it can be demonstrated that measures can be effectively targeted specifically at
increasing the wealth and well-being of those who would otherwise choose to migrate,
then the ‘root causes’ strategy is supported.
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Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
List of European research
projects consulted for the
ACCEPT PLURALISM - Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion: Responding to the
Challenges of the 21st Century in Europe
ACCEPT PLURALISM was about toleration and acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity
in contemporary Europe. ACCEPT PLURALISM reviewed critically past empirical research
and the scholarly theoretical literature on the topic. It conducted original empirical
research in fourteen EU Member States and one accession country (Turkey) focusing on
key events of national and European relevance that thematise different understandings
and practices of tolerance and/or acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity.
The purpose of ACCEPT PLURALISM was twofold. The project developed an original
theoretical and normative framework of different types of (in)tolerance to diversity,
and also explored policy responses with a view to providing key messages for policy
makers. Adequate policies seek meeting points between the realities and expectations
of European and national policy makers, civil society, and minority groups.
Coordinator: European University Institute, Italy
DEMAND-AT – Demand-Side Measures Against Human Trafficking
The DemandAT project aims to understand the role of demand in the trafficking of
human beings and to assess the impact and potential of demand-side measures to
reduce trafficking, drawing on insights on regulating demand from related areas.
The research includes a strong theoretical and conceptual component through an
examination of the concept of demand in trafficking from a historical and economic
perspective. Regulatory approaches are studied in policy areas that address demand in
illicit markets, in order to develop a better understanding of the impact that the different
regulatory approaches can have on demand. Demand-side arguments in different fields
of trafficking as well as demand-side policies of selected countries are examined in
order to provide a better understanding of the available policy options and impacts.
Finally, the research also involves in-depth case studies both of the particular fields in
which trafficking occurs (domestic work, prostitution, the globalised production of goods)
and of particular policy approaches (law enforcement and campaigns).
Coordinator: International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Austria
EDUMIGROM – Ethnic Differences in Education and Diverging Prospects for Urban
Youth in an Enlarged Europe
The research project aimed to study how ethnic differences in education contribute
List of European research projects consulted for the review
to the diverging prospects for minority ethnic youth and their peers in urban settings.
Through a comparative endeavor involving nine EU countries, EDUMIGROM explored
how far existing educational policies, practices and experiences in markedly different
welfare regimes protect minority ethnic youth against marginalization and eventual
social exclusion. In ethnically diverse urban communities, schools often become targets
for locally organized political struggles shaped by a broader political and civic culture
of ethnic mobilization. EDUMIGROM aimed to investigate how schools operate in
their roles of socialization and knowledge distribution, and how they influence young
people’s identity formation. The project also looked to the role of schools in reducing,
maintaining, or deepening inequalities in young people’s access to the labor market,
further education and training, and also to different domains of social, cultural, and
political participation. The project undertook macro-level investigations, a comparative
survey and multi-faceted field research in local settings.
Coordinator: Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Hungary
EUMAGINE - Imagining Europe from the outside. On the role of democracy and
human rights perceptions in constructing migration aspirations and decisions
towards Europe
The project examined how Europe is perceived from outside and how these perceptions
affect migration aspirations. It focused on the role that people’s perceptions on democracy
and human rights – both in their respective countries of origin as well as in Europe –
play in the aspirations to migrate or not. The project also looked into how perceptions
on human rights and democracy interact with other determinants of migration; to what
extent migration is perceived as a valuable life project, and how potential migrants
compare Europe to other migration destinations.
EUMAGINE studied migration-related perceptions among persons aged 18-39 in four
countries of origin: Morocco, Senegal, Turkey and Ukraine. These included persons who
had previous migration experience, who had no experience but aspired to migrate, and
others who had never migrated and did not aspire to do so.
Coordinator: University of Antwerp, Belgium
EUMARGINS - On the Margins of the European Community – Young Adults of Ethnic
Minority Background in Seven European Countries
The EUMARGINS investigated experiences of young adults with immigrant backgrounds
in seven different countries: Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain
and Estonia. The research project sought to enhance the understanding of inclusion and
exclusion processes among young adults of immigrant background. The premise was
that individuals may be included in some life arenas, but at the same time excluded
from other arenas and that these situations can change over a course of a life time.
Analysis of existing statistics, past research, migration history, legal sources (first phase)
was therefore used in combination with life story interviews and participant observation
(second phase).
Coordinator: University of Oslo, Norway
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
EURA-NET - Transnational Migration in Transition: Transformative Characteristics of
Temporary Mobility of People
The aim of EURA-NET is to produce scientifically sound and innovative framings for
investigating transformative characteristics and development impacts of temporary
transnational migration and mobility in highly industrialised societies, transformation
countries and developing countries. Theoretical and empirical studies are being
accomplished to attain an understanding of the transformative characteristics of
temporary migration in China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, the Netherlands,
the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as in wider international and
regional contexts. Research data are being gathered through interviews with individual
migrants and national and international policy-makers. The findings in the EuropeanAsian context will provide insights to be applied to other world regions.
Coordinator: University of Tampere, Finland
FIDUCIA - New European Crimes and Trust-based Policy
The FIDUCIA project sheds light on a number of distinctively “new European” criminal
behaviors which have emerged in the last decade as a consequence of technology
developments and the increased mobility of populations across Europe (human
trafficking, criminalisation of migration, trafficking of goods, cybercrimes) and proposes
new approaches to the regulation of such behaviors. Public trust in justice is important
for social regulation: this is why FIDUCIA proposes a “trust-based” policy model in
respect of these forms of criminality.
Coordinator: Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy
GEITONIES - Generating Interethnic Tolerance and Neighborhood Integration in
European Urban Spaces
GEITONIES (meaning 'Neighbourhoods' in Greek) investigated interethnic relations in
18 local neighbourhoods in 6 European cities (Lisbon, Rotterdam, Vienna, Thessaloniki,
Bilbao and Warsaw).
Through questionnaire-based interviews with more than 3,600 respondents, the
researchers sought to investigate how interdependencies, be they of a consensual
or conflictual nature, develop between different individuals/groups in multi-ethnic
neighbourhoods and how this impacts on the progression toward more tolerant and
cohesive European societies. The project did not only focus on the immigrant dwellers
of the abovementioned cities, but on the whole population, regardless of socio-cultural
or ethnic background, thus taking a more inter-cultural approach to exploring aspects
of social cohesion.
Coordinator: Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Territorio da Universidade de
Lisboa, Portugal
MAFE - Migration between Africa and Europe
Despite the attention it raises in the media, the scope, nature and likely development of
Sub-Saharan African migration to Europe remains poorly understood, and, as a result,
List of European research projects consulted for the review
European polices may be ineffective. A major cause of this lack of understanding is the
absence of comprehensive data on the causes of migration and circulation between
Africa and Europe.
MAFE collected unique data on the characteristics and behaviour of migrants from
Sub-Saharan countries to Europe. Underpinning this project was the recognition that
is not simply a one-way flow from Africa to Europe. Rather, return migration,
circulation, and transnational actions are significant and need to be recognized in policy
design. The project sought to address four key areas:
Patterns of migration: trends, migrants’ characteristics, migratory routes;
Determinants of migration: poverty, education, gender, policies;
Migration and economic integration: remittances, investments, integration and reintegration of migrants;
Migrations and families: family construction, structure and formation, families over time and space.
Coordinator: Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques (INED), France
NEUJOBS - Creating and Adapting Jobs in the Context of a Socio-Ecological
The overarching objective of the project is to analyse possible future developments in
European labour market(s) under the main assumption that European societies are now
facing or preparing to face profound transitions (‘megatrends’) that will have a major
impact on employment; particularly for some groups in the labour force or sectors of
the economy. These natural and societal megatrends will reshape the global conditions
for Europe, posing numerous challenges to societies and policy-makers in the area of
Coordinator: Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Belgium
NOPOOR – Enhancing Knowledge for Renewed Policies against Poverty
NOPOOR aims to build new knowledge on the nature and extent of poverty in developing
countries. The project is based on a comparative approach with case studies undertaken
in countries which have implemented different poverty reduction policies, in Latin
America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The project will also identify and study
key mechanisms which explain the persistence and exacerbation of poverty, like trade,
development aid, FDI and migration. The project employs different methods, including
surveys, econometric studies and qualitative case studies and will also look forward to
future scenarios. Conclusions will be oriented to policy recommendations which will be
tailored to each country’s characteristics, including their access to resources, political
regime, quality of institutions and governance.
Coordinator: Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), France
NORFACE: Research Programme on Migration
The NORFACE Research Programme on Migration was jointly funded by the national
Research Councils and the European Commission. The Programme on Migration aimed
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
to build a new synergetic body of research to contribute to our theoretical understanding
and knowledge in the area of Migration Research. The research programme was focused
on three main themes: Migration; Integration; Cohesion and Conflict. The NORFACE
Programme on Migration is an ERA-NET Plus instrument: a co-fund instrument gathering
13 national research funding organisations and the Commission with a budget of €28,9
M, of which the Commission contribution was €6 M. Twelve projects were selected
following a joint call launched by the consortium of NORFACE Migration, namely:
CHOICES - Understanding Migrants' Choices
CILS4EU - Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries
IMEM - Integrated Modeling of European Migration
LineUp - 500 Families: Migration Histories of Turks in Europe
- Migrant Diversity and Regional Disparity in Europe
MI3 - Migration: Integration, Impact and Interaction
NODES - Nordic welfare states and the dynamics and effects of ethnic residential segregation
SCIP - Causes and Consequences of Early Socio-Cultural Integration Processes Among New Immigrants in Europe
SIMCUR - Social Integration of Migrant Children: Uncovering Family and School Factors Promoting Resilience
TEMPO - TEmporary Migration, integration and the role of POlicies
THEMIS - Theorizing the Evolution of European Migration Systems
TCRAf-Eu - Transnational child-raising arrangements between Africa and Europe
RURBANAFRICA – African Rural–City Connections
The overall objective of the African Rural-City Connections (RurbanAfrica) project is
to explore the connections between rural transformations, mobility, and urbanization
processes and analyze how these contribute to an understanding of the scale, nature and
location of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Within these processes, the project analyses a
range of crucial components, namely agricultural transformations, rural livelihoods, city
dynamics, and access to services in cities.
RurbanAfrica focuses on four country cases: Rwanda, Tanzania, Cameroon and Ghana
and examines in-depth two rural-city connections in each of the case countries.
Coordinator: University of Copenhagen, Denmark
SEARCH – Sharing Knowledge Assets: InterRegionally Cohesive Neighbourhoods
The SEARCH project's main objective was to strengthen integration between the
European Union (EU) and the Neighbourhood countries (NC). SEARCH analysed the
impact of European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) on the integration of the EU and
neighbouring countries in terms of their trade and capital flows, mobility and human
capital, technological activities and innovation diffusion, and institutional environment.
The aim was to facilitate a better understanding of the conditions characterising
the institutional framework of the NC and their economic interactions with the EU in
relation to these issues. SEARCH sought to enhance the implementation of the European
Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) based on the understanding that “one-size-fits-all” policy
List of European research projects consulted for the review
recommendations are inappropriate given the bilateral nature of the EU-ENP country
Project Coordinator: Universitat de Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group
(AQR), Spain
SOM - Support and Opposition to Migration
Large-scale migration to European countries has led to all sorts of tensions in receiving
countries. The presence of immigrants, however, has not become a politically contested
issue everywhere. The ways in which the issue of immigration has become politicised
differ significantly across countries. Support and Opposition to Migration (SOM) looked at
the politicisation of migration in seven European countries. It examined why and when
potential conflicts over migration become politicised on the basis of claims and counterclaims, considering both anti-immigration and anti-racist movements. The focus was on
the role of four types of actors – the state, political parties, movements, and the media
– in politicising and depoliticising the issue of immigration in seven receiving countries:
Austria, Belgium, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland.
Coordinator: University Of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
TEMPER - Temporary vs. Permanent Migration
TEMPER aims at providing a comprehensive assessment of the pros and cons of recent
initiatives to promote temporary and circular migration as an alternative to more
traditional forms of permanent migration.
The TEMPER project will pursue three main objectives:
identify the main drivers of return and circulation decisions of migrants,
measure and explain the role that different programs, and immigration policies at large, have played in shaping those individual decisions and,
assess the impact that different types of temporary, permanent and circular
mobility have for migrant and non-migrant workers, their families and their employers.
The work in TEMPER is focused on a number of countries of origin in Eastern Europe
(Romania, Ukraine), Latin America (Colombia, Argentina), Sub-Saharan Africa (DRC,
Ghana, Senegal), North Africa (Morocco). The EU destination countries under analysis
are: France, Italy, Spain and UK.
Coordinator: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones científicas (CSIC), Spain
TRANS-NET - Transnationalisation, Migration and Transformation: Multi-Level
Analysis of Migrant Transnationalism
TRANS-NET investigated the complex phenomena surrounding transnational migration
and their implications for the people's everyday life. The research conducted in Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, India, Morocco, Turkey, and the United Kingdom addressed both
policy documents and individual migrants, including labour migrants; posted workers;
family-based migrants; humanitarian migrants, and foreign degree students. The focus
was in their transnational networks and political, economic, and socio-cultural activities.
The following transnational spaces were taken as the main units to analyze the border-
Migration - Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities
crossing relationships: Estonia/Finland, India/UK, Morocco/France, and Turkey/Germany.
Research data were gathered through content analysis of policy documents and by
semi-structured and life-course interviews among a selected sample of respondents in
each participating country.
Coordinator: University of Tampere, Finland
WWWforEurope - Welfare, Wealth and Work for Europe
The overall objective is to provide evidence-based analyses serving public policy making
aimed at promoting a socio-ecological transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.
This involves deriving policy instruments for shifting Europe to a new high road path, and
determining the institutional changes as well as policy instruments needed at all policy
levels. The vision shaping the final outcome of the project is that of Europe becoming a
role model for implementing a new high road strategy which actively incorporates social
and environmental goals, employment, gender and cultural aspects in an ambitious,
forward looking way while proving competitive in a globalised world. The project
underlines the need for change, looking for existing best practice and experience and
revealing obstacles and feedbacks.
Coordinator: Austrian Institute of Economic Research, Austria
List of European research projects consulted for the review
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This policy review synthesises the main findings from
several European projects dealing with migration. Where
possible, these findings are matched, or occasionally
contrasted, with key insights from the wider research literature on migration and with policy documents. An introductory chapter sets the scene with regard to the ongoing
European debate on migration and gives some basic
facts and figures. Chapter 2, the first of three substantive
chapters, presents research related to the two-way interaction between policies and flows, with a focus on regular
migration. Chapter 3 tackles the complex issue of migrants’
integration from a variety of perspectives – economic,
social, cultural, spatial and political. Chapter 4 explores the
migration – development nexus, and specifically the potential of migration for stimulating development in migrants’
countries of origin. A concluding chapter highlights key
findings and policy implications. The title of this report
‘Migration: Facing Realities and Maximising Opportunities’
indicates its main narrative arc. The challenges and dilemmas posed by migration have to be faced in a way which
is both principled and pragmatic. Wherever and whenever
possible, these challenges and realities should be ‘turned’
into a scenario where the potential benefits of migration are
maximised for all actors concerned.
Studies and reports
ISBN 978-92-79-52976-4
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