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Is There a North–South Divide in Integration Outcomes? A Comparison of the Integration Outcomes of Immigrants in Southern and Northern Europe

Abstract

Integration models are often viewed as a necessary tool for framing integration policies, and for measuring integration efficiency. While “old” European immigration countries in Europe account for a systematic framework of integration policies embedded in a given integration philosophy, new immigration countries (particularly Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain) have lacked a coherent set of integration policies and practices and, it goes without saying, a philosophical approach to integration. This vacuum has often been seen as a source of marginalization and ‘differential exclusion’, suggesting the existence of a North–South divide in integration matters, and more importantly, outcomes. However, there is still a striking lack of appropriate comparative empirical evidence backing or dismissing this divide. The objective of this article is to explore national-level differences in the real performance of immigrants in selected European countries of immigration along key indicators of integration outcomes, including school attainment and labor market participation. We here discuss the position of Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal as a coherent cluster of countries and compare the performance of their migrants with that of other foreign-born workers settled in the West of Europe. Our evidence provides little support for the idea that the Southern countries are a unique cluster and that they homogeneously lag behind in terms of integration outcomes.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Both Italy and Spain were for a long time major net receiving immigration countries in the European Union. Nowadays, foreigners represent 7.2 and 10 % of the total population, respectively.

  2. 2.

    Unfortunately, because of data constraints we are unable to consider the migrants’ countries of origin in our analyses.

  3. 3.

    Yet, we are aware that a country’s preference for a particular citizenship regime or integration model does not always rest on ‘firm empirical grounds’ (Koopmans et al. 2005, p. 32).

  4. 4.

    Nevertheless, the Greek Parliament approved in March 2010 a comprehensive reform of the Greek Citizenship Law, which introduced the ius soli as well as the procedure of ‘citizenship by declaration’ for young foreign children born in Greece to parents with a permanent residence permit. For more details on the reform see: www.eudo.citizenship.eu.

  5. 5.

    As Joppke (2005, p. 130) put it, “Portugal became the torchbearer of ‘racial equality’ and ‘multiracialism’ long before such vocabulary became standard in the liberal democracies of the west.” The consequence is that the Portuguese integration discourse is much closer to multiculturalism than the Italian or the Spanish one.

  6. 6.

    Zincone’s model of reasonable integration is constituted of four basic elements: (1) interaction based on security where positive interaction is based on respect for the rules. Fighting against crime and curbing illegal entries are two fundamental aspects of achieving the goal of positive interaction. (2) Integrity of human rights for illegal immigrants. (3) Full integrity for legal immigrants. (4) Interaction based on pluralism and communication.

  7. 7.

    Note, however, that the replication of all analyses presented in this paper using the first approach yields almost identical conclusions. The results of these analyses are available upon request.

  8. 8.

    Ethnicity appears to be a residual partial explanation of attainment in many Western European countries (Heath and Birnbaum 2007).

  9. 9.

    Mathematics is a more universal and culture-blind language, and is thought to minimize ethnic differentials in attainment. The results from the reading and the science test scores are available upon request.

  10. 10.

    Note that there is a slight chronological inconsistency between PISA-2009 and the timing of the MIPEX index.

  11. 11.

    See the various policy reviews of the OECD and, particularly “Closing the Gap for Immigrant Students” OECD, 2010.

  12. 12.

    Furthermore, adding the Education MIPEX score does not help to explain the country differences in the migrant effect seen in Figs. 1 and 2 (left panels). In other words, the dispersion of the slope random terms is not reduced in this model specification [sd(immigrant)]. Using the general MIPEX index instead of the specific one for education implies no changes.

  13. 13.

    One of the limitations of our approach is that we do not look at the occupational attainment of migrants in different countries. Our analysis is thus restricted to unemployment and activity, which jointly help us to understand the nature of labor market access.

  14. 14.

    We have also tested the impact of selected macroeconomic determinants of labor market success such as GDP growth, GDP per capita (in PPS). These last blocks of variables have been taken from the Eurostat indicators for each relevant year (2009). None of them turn out to be statistically significant.

  15. 15.

    Using the general MIPEX score instead of the specific one for labor market policies results in the same conclusion.

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Correspondence to Hector Cebolla-Boado.

Appendix

Appendix

Tables 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Table 2 Summary of the MIPEX integration scores for selected countries
Table 3 Linear multilevel regression
Table 4 Linear multilevel regression
Table 5 Random constant and slope multilevel linear probability models
Table 6 Random constant and slope multilevel linear probability models

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Cebolla-Boado, H., Finotelli, C. Is There a North–South Divide in Integration Outcomes? A Comparison of the Integration Outcomes of Immigrants in Southern and Northern Europe. Eur J Population 31, 77–102 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-014-9327-8

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Keywords

  • Integration policies
  • Education
  • Literacy
  • Labor market
  • Unemployment
  • Southern Europe