Advertisement

The challenge of measuring immigrant origin and immigration-related ethnicity in Europe

  • Dirk JacobsEmail author
  • Marc Swyngedouw
  • Laurie Hanquinet
  • Véronique Vandezande
  • Roger Andersson
  • Ana Paula Beja Horta
  • Maria Berger
  • Mario Diani
  • Amparo Gonzalez Ferrer
  • Marco Giugni
  • Miruna Morariu
  • Katia Pilati
  • Paul Statham
Research Note

Abstract

Different European nation-states use the most diverse statistical constructions of foreign origin or ethnic minority populations. Several countries traditionally even shun from producing such data. This makes international comparison a very difficult endeavour. Anyone wanting to perform comparative research on immigrants or (immigrant origin) ethnic minorities in Europe is unavoidably confronted with the most diverse types of national statistical data and has to opt for ad hoc solutions. Attempts at international comparison can thus be very tricky due to data characteristics. It is important that researchers are aware of these problems and do not simply accept data (especially in comparisons) at face value. In this article we embark on a comparative explorative study of the way in which immigrant background and immigration related ethnicity is taken stock of by national statistical institutes in a set of European nation-states.

Keywords

Ethnic statistics Ethnic categorization Comparative research Europe 

Résumé

Les États-nations européens utilisent des constructions statistiques très diversifiées afin de compter leurs minorités ethniques ou leurs populations issues de l’immigration. Plusieurs pays s’interdisent même de produire de telles données. Ceci entrave largement la comparaison internationale. Ceux qui veulent faire de la recherche comparative portant sur la situation des immigrés ou des minorités ethniques (issues de l’immigration) en Europe, seront confrontés à une grande diversité de données statistiques nationales qui sont peu comparables. Pour cette raison, la comparaison internationale sera toujours difficile, voir risquée. Il est important que les chercheurs soient conscients des limites et des risques liés à ce problème. Dans cet article nous entamons une étude comparative exploratoire des différentes stratégies de catégorisation ethnique utilisées par les instituts nationaux de statistiques dans une série d’États-nations européens.

Mots clés

statistiques ethniques catégorisation ethnique recherche comparative Europe 

Notes

Acknowledgements

A preliminary version of this article was presented in the Conference of the ESA Research Network for the Sociology of Culture on “Changing Cultures: European Perspectives”, Ghent, 15–17 November 2006. We thank the three anonymous reviewers of the Journal for International Migration and Integration for their very useful comments allowing for substantial improvement of this article.

References

  1. Amaro, H., & Zambrana, R. (2000). Criollo, Mestizo, Mulato, LatiNegro, Indigena, white or black? The US hispanic/latino population and multiple responses in the 2000 census. American Journal of Public Health, 90(11), 1724–1727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aspinall, P. (2002). Collective terminology to describe the minority ethnic population: the persistence of confusion and ambiguity in usage. Sociology, 36(4), 803–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balibar, E. (1992). Les Frontières de la Démocratie. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  4. Blum, A. (2002). Resistance to identity categorization in France. In D. Kertzer, & D. Arel (Eds.), Census and ethnicity: the politics of race, ethnicity and language in national censuses (pp. 121–147). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1980). Le sens pratique. Paris: Editions de minuit.Google Scholar
  6. Bulmer, M. (1996). The ethnic group question in the 1991 Census of Population. In D. Coleman, & J. Salt (Eds.), Ethnicity in the 1991 census, volume one: demographic characteristics of the ethnic, minority populations (pp. 33–62). London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  7. Cantisani, G., & Greco, V. (2006a). Registration of acquisition of citizenship. In M. Poulain, N. Perrin, & A. Singleton (Eds.), THESIM. Towards harmonised European statistics on international migration (pp. 167–178). Louvain: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.Google Scholar
  8. Cantisani, G., & Greco, V. (2006b). Statistics on acquisition of citizenship. In M. Poulain, N. Perrin, & A. Singleton (Eds.), THESIM. Towards harmonised European statistics on international migration (pp. 261–270). Louvain: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.Google Scholar
  9. Cantisani, G., & Poulain, M. (2006). Statistics on population with usual residence. In M. Poulain, N. Perrin, & A. Singleton (Eds.), THESIM. Towards harmonised European Statistics on International Migration (pp. 181–201). Louvain: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.Google Scholar
  10. Institut National De Statistique (1986). Loi du 4 Juillet 1962 relative à la statistique publique, modifiée par la loi du 1 er Août 1985 (p. 25). Bruxelles: Ministère des affaires économiques.Google Scholar
  11. Jacobs, D., & Rea, A. (2005). Construction et importation des classements ethniques. Allochtones et immigrés aux Pays-Bas et en Belgique. Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales, 21(2), 35–59.Google Scholar
  12. Jacobs, D., & Swyngedouw, M. (2003). Territorial and non-territorial federalism: reform of the Brussels Capital Region, 2001. Regional and Federal Studies, 13(2), 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jenkins, R. (1994). Rethinking ethnicity: identity, categorization and power. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 17(2), 197–223.Google Scholar
  14. Jenkins, R. (1997). Rethinking ethnicity: Arguments and explorations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Keith, M. (2005). Racialization and the Public Spaces of the Multicultural City. In K. Murji, & J. Solomos (Eds.), Racialization. Studies in theory and practice (pp. 249–270). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005.Google Scholar
  16. Kertzer, D., & Arel, D. (2002). Censuses, identity formation and the struggle for political power. In D. Kertzer, & D. Arel (Eds.), Census and Ethnicity: the Politics of Race, Ethnicity and Language in National Censuses (pp. 1–42). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Koopmans, R. (2008). Tradeoffs between Equality and Difference. Immigrant Integration, Multiculturalism, and the Welfare State in Cross-National Perspective. Berlin: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung. Discussion Paper.Google Scholar
  18. Krieger, N. (2000). Counting accountably: Implications of the New Approaches to Classifying Race/Ethnicity in the 2000 Census. American Journal of Public Health, 90(11), 1687–1689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee, S. (1993). Racial classifications in the US census: 1890-1990. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 16(1), 75–94.Google Scholar
  20. Lie, E. (2002). Numbering the nationalities: ethnic minorities in Norwegian population censuses 1845–1930. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 25(5), 802–822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Minderhedennota (1983) Tweede Kamer, zitting 1982–1983, nr. 16102 (21). Den Haag.Google Scholar
  22. National Statistics (2003). Ethnic group statistics. A guide for the collection and classification of ethnic data. London: National Statistics.Google Scholar
  23. Nobles, M. (2000). history counts: a comparative analysis of racial/color categorization in US and Brazilian Censuses. American Journal of Public Health, 90(11), 1738–1745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Perrin, N. (2006). A cohort approach to acquisition of citizenship statistics. In M. Poulain, N. Perrin, & A. Singleton (Eds.), THESIM. Towards Harmonised European Statistics on International Migration (pp. 321–366). Louvain: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.Google Scholar
  25. Riche, M. (1999). Cultural and Political Dimensions of the US Census. Past and present. American Behavioural Scientist, 42(6), 933–945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sabbagh, D., & Morning, A. (2004). Comparative Study on the Collection of data to Measure the Extent and Impact of Discrimination in a selection of countries - Medis Project – Final report on The United States, European Commission, Employment and Social Affairs DG.Google Scholar
  27. Scottish Government & The General Register Office for Scotland (2008). Scotland’s New Official Ethnicity Classification. For Scottish Official Statistics and Recommended for Scotland’s 2011 Census, July 2008. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.Google Scholar
  28. Seltzer, W., & Anderson, M. (2001). The dark side of numbers: the role of population data systems in human rights abuses. Social Research, 68(2), 481–513.Google Scholar
  29. Simon, P. (1997). La représentation statistique de l’immigration. Peut-on comptabiliser l’ethnicité ? In J. Rallu, Y. Courbage, & V. Piche (Eds.), Old and new minorities/Anciennes et nouvelles minorités (pp. 1–30). Paris: INED.Google Scholar
  30. Simon, P. (1998). Nationalité et origine dans la statistique française. Les catégories ambiguës. Population, 3, 541–568.Google Scholar
  31. Simon, P. (2007). « Ethnic » statistics and data protection in the Council of Europe countries. Study Report. Strasbourg: Conseil de l’Europe.Google Scholar
  32. Sondik, E., Lucas, J., Madans, J., & Smith, S. (2000). Race/Ethnicity and the 2000 Census: Implications for Public Health. American Journal of Public Health, 90(11), 1709–1713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Special Eurobarometer 263 (2007) Discrimination in the European Union, European commission, consulted on March 28 on the world wide web: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_263_en.pdf.
  34. Spire, A., & Merllie, D. (1998). La question des origines dans les statistiques en France: Les enjeux d’une controverse. Le mouvement social, 188, 119–129.Google Scholar
  35. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (2006). Conference of European Statisticians Recommendations for the 2010 Censuses of Population and Housing. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  36. Vassenden, K. (2005). Statistical definitions of persons with immigrant background - new developments and international comparison. Paper written 26 April 2005 for the Nordic Demographic Symposium, Aalborg, Denmark.Google Scholar
  37. Waters, M. (2000). Immigration, Intermarriage, and the Challenges of Measuring Racial/Ethnic Identities. American Journal of Public Health, 90(11), 1735–1737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Williams, D., & Jackson, J. (2000). Race/Ethnicity and the 2000 Census: Recommendations for African Americans and Other Black Populations in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 90(11), 1728–1730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. WRR (1989). Allochtonenbeleid. Rapporten aan de Regering 36. ‘s Gravenhage: SDU Uitgeverij.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Jacobs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marc Swyngedouw
    • 2
  • Laurie Hanquinet
    • 1
  • Véronique Vandezande
    • 2
  • Roger Andersson
    • 3
  • Ana Paula Beja Horta
    • 4
  • Maria Berger
    • 5
  • Mario Diani
    • 6
  • Amparo Gonzalez Ferrer
    • 7
  • Marco Giugni
    • 8
  • Miruna Morariu
    • 8
  • Katia Pilati
    • 6
  • Paul Statham
    • 9
  1. 1.Institut de Sociologie – METICES/GERMEUniversité Libre de Bruxelles (CP 124)BruxellesBelgium
  2. 2.Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Universidade AbertaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.University of TrentoTrentoItaly
  7. 7.Universitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  8. 8.University of GeneveGenevaSwitzerland
  9. 9.Bristol UniversityBristolUK

Personalised recommendations