Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015

Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015

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02 July 2015
9789264234024 (PDF) ; 9789264238718 (EPUB) ;9789264232303(print)

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This joint publication by the OECD and the European Commission presents the first broad international comparison across all EU and OECD countries of the outcomes for immigrants and their children, through 27 indicators organised around five areas: Employment, education and skills, social inclusion, civic engagement and social cohesion (Chapters 5 to 12). Three chapters present detailed contextual information (demographic and immigrant-specific) for immigrants and immigrant households (Chapters 2 to 4). Two special chapters are dedicated to specific groups. The first group is that of young people with an immigrant background, whose outcomes are often seen as the benchmark for the success or failure of integration. The second group are third-country nationals in the European Union, who are the target of EU integration policy.

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  • Foreword

    This publication presents the first broad international comparison across all EU and OECD countries of the outcomes for immigrants and their children. It is the fruit of a joint co‑operation between the European Commission (DG Migration and Home Affairs) and the OECD’s International Migration Division, in the perspective of a regular monitoring of comparable indicators of integration across EU and OECD countries. This report has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union.

  • Editorial

    The issue of immigration and the integration of immigrants and their children are high on the policy agenda of EU and OECD countries, both from an economic and a social standpoint. The active participation of immigrants and their children in the labour market and, more generally, in public life is vital for ensuring social cohesion in the host country and the ability of migrants to function as autonomous, productive and successful, self‑realised citizens. This is also critical for facilitating their acceptance by the host‑country population.

  • Executive summary

    In 2012, one in ten people living in the EU and OECD areas was born abroad, totalling around 115 million immigrants in the OECD and 52 million in the EU, of which 33.5 million were from non-EU countries. In both the EU and the OECD, the immigrant population has grown by more than 30% since 2000. This report presents a detailed international comparison of the outcomes of immigrants and their children in all EU and OECD countries, in the areas of labour market, education, income, housing, health, civic engagement, and social cohesion, accompanied by comprehensive background information.

  • Introduction and overview

    The integration of immigrants and their children is high on the policy agenda of EU and OECD countries for a number of reasons. Flows of immigrants into many countries have increased over the past two decades and the labour markets have seen an increasing number of immigrant offspring. Integrating immigrants and their children into the labour market and society as a whole is vital for promoting social cohesion and economic growth of host countries and the ability of migrants to become self-reliant, productive citizens. It is also a frequent prerequisite for the host population’s acceptance of further immigration.

  • Socio-demographic characteristics of immigrant populations

    The societies of countries in the OECD and European Union have been shaped by successive waves of immigration. Their scale and makeup vary widely and many integration outcomes are shaped by different socio-demographic factors, such as place of residence, age, gender, etc. To interpret those outcomes, understanding differences in immigrants’ socio-demographic characteristics across countries and with their native-born counterparts is a prerequisite.This chapter looks at the broad socio-demographic characteristics of immigrants and compares them with those of the native-born population. considers the size of the immigrant population and the proportion living in densely populated areas. The chapter then goes on to address gender and age (), followed by birth rates and rates of unions with spouses or partners of the same origin ().The rest of the publication will make constant references to this background data as it seeks to explain some of the disparities that affect immigrants. For further discussion of issues raised in each section, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Defining characteristics of immigrant populations

    Some of the factors that explain the discrepancies in outcomes between immigrants and the native-born spring directly from the migration process itself. The very fact of being born abroad may constitute an obstacle in that, for example, the immigrant may lack the native-born in-depth knowledge of the host society (how the labour market functions, networks, familiarity with public services, etc.). Understanding the constituent elements of the host country takes time, and integration outcomes tend to improve with duration of stay in the country of residence. More generally, structural differences – like the quality of the education system – between the home and host countries can also have an impact on integration. Mastering the language of the host country is especially important for success in the new country of residence.A person’s reason for migrating to another country can also play an important part in determining outcomes, particularly on the labour market. For example, labour migrants usually have a job waiting for them on arrival or land one shortly afterwards. The situation is very different when it comes to family and humanitarian migrants. Immigrants’ countries of birth, particularly if they are lower-income countries where education systems tend to perform less well, also play a role in integration outcomes.This chapter considers those immigrant-specific characteristics for which data are available through comparable sources internationally. They are: the composition of new immigration flows by category (); duration of stay, regions of origin, and citizenship (); immigrants’ language of origin and languages spoken at home ().Throughout the publication, reference will be made to the background information presented in this chapter so as to explain certain disparities with native populations that affect immigrants. For further discussion of issues raised in each section, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Characteristics of immigrant households

    The household and family structures are determinants in a number of integration outcomes. Studies have shown, for example, that the home environment (whether parents are present and the size of the family) has an impact on children’s school performance, which in turn affects their economic integration later on. Family structure also determines such living conditions as income and housing as well as the ability of adults to both work and support their children.The integration outcomes of households that are solely composed of immigrants differ significantly from those of mixed households (where one mantainer is immigrant and the other native-born) – with the latter broadly resembling those of native households. Beyond socio-demographic characteristics, a prerequisite for understanding the outcomes of the foreign-born is thus to understand the differences between their household structure and that of the native-born.This chapter volunteers two definitions of immigrant household and goes on to analyse the size of such households () and their composition ().Throughout this publication, reference will be made to the background information presented in this chapter so as to explain certain defining immigrant characteristics. For further discussion of issues raised by the indicators considered, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Labour market outcomes of immigrants

    Jobs are immigrants’ chief source of income. Finding one is therefore fundamental to their becoming part of the host country’s economic fabric. It also helps them – though there is no guarantee – to take their place in society as a whole by, for example, clearing the way into decent accommodation and the host country’s health system. Work also confers social standing in the eyes of the immigrant’s family, particularly children, and with respect to the host-country population.This chapter examines three indicators: employment and activity rates (), the unemployment rate (), and a labour market exclusion indicator – long-term unemployment and inactivity (). Data limitations at the end of this chapter further discusses the indicators and any issues of data availability and definition.

  • Quality of immigrants' jobs

    While access to employment is a key indicator of integration, the kind of job yields a more comprehensive picture of the nature of an immigrant’s place in the labour market. Indicators include job security, working hours, matches or mismatches between workers’ qualifications and skills and those required by the job. The incidence of self-employment and proportions of immigrants working in the public services sector are also relevant indicators. When it comes to immigrants, job quality indicators should be gauged against their experience (estimated by individuals’ ages), their levels of educational attainment, and the length of time they have resided in the host country.This chapter looks first at job contracts (temporary versus unlimited duration – ), working hours (), job skills (), and the match between the level of qualifications required and those held by the worker (). It then considers the shares of self-employment () and the integration of immigrant workers in the public services sector (). For further discussion of some of the issues that the indicators raise, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Cognitive skills and training of immigrant adults

    Adults’ cognitive skills have a strong bearing on their career paths. They also shape how immigrants find their place in society and give their offspring a better chance of a high-quality education. Although individuals’ skills are obviously decisive determinants in their economic and social integration, they can in themselves be considered indicators not of how well immigrants actually integrate or fare in the host society but of their ability to do so. Many received their initial training and education and built at least part of their skills as adults in their country of origin before they migrated. Against that background, the host country often plays only a limited role in educating the foreign-trained people.Host countries can, however, play a telling part in ensuring lifelong training and education. It can round off immigrants’ initial education and training so that their skills and qualifications meet the requirements of the labour market more closely. Immigrants, including those who are highly qualified, may struggle to free up their skills potential if they are hampered by a poor command of the host country’s language or a lack of understanding of how its labour market works.This chapter begins by considering and comparing the levels of education attained by foreign- and native-born adults (). It then goes on to assess literacy in the host country’s language as the OECD’s Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) measures it (). Finally, the chapter examines access to adult education and training () with a special focus on work-related training (). For further discussion of some of the issues that the indicators raise, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Income of immigrant households

    Income is a decisive factor in determining many socio-economic outcomes. A variety of studies have shown, for example, that a higher level of income is associated with better health and education, and greater civic participation and social cohesion. In contrast, poverty adversely affects the well-being of immigrants in the host society in many ways, such as poor housing and inhibited skills development. Beyond poverty itself, inequitable distribution of income can lead to marginalisation and damage social cohesion.People’s levels of income are largely shaped by their employment status. Their labour market outcomes and the nature of the job they hold are important determinants of income, as labour earnings themselves account for the bulk of family incomes in the OECD and in the EU. The degree to which income can provide a decent living is affected by many other socio-demographic factors, such as the number of children and their ages, and the availability of social transfers that help to even out income inequalities.This chapter considers four indicators. It looks first at household disposable income () and the overall risk of poverty (). Because having a job does not necessarily fully protect against poverty, the third indicator focuses on the risk of poverty among workers (). Last, the fourth indicator considers the risk of financial exclusion –i.e. not having a bank account or having one that is overdrawn ().For further discussion of issues raised by the indicators considered, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Immigrants and housing

    Housing conditions depend on such circumstances as financial resources and family size. Immigrants’ housing conditions, too, are very much dictated by circumstances, including the category of entry to which they belong.Migrants who arrive to join their family benefit, in theory, from already having suitable accommodation on arrival, since the requirements governing family reunification in most countries set minimum thresholds for resources, space, and/or number of rooms. Those who arrive in other circumstances, by contrast, may have neither the money to rent nor the time to find decent accommodation. Market forces – property prices and the standard of housing available at those prices – indeed restrict the choice of accommodation available to immigrants who on average have lower incomes. A further risk to which immigrants are more exposed is that of finding themselves in substandard housing – partly because they are often less informed about the rental market and partly because it is harder for them to borrow money. They may also be discriminated against by landlords. Social housing and housing benefits may be the way into bigger homes of a higher standard, but immigrant households in need may not necessarily be eligible to such assistance and applications can take a long time to process before new arrivals can move in.This chapter considers four housing indicators: housing tenure (), the share of overcrowded housing (), and more global housing conditions (), as well as housing costs (). The section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter discusses some of the issues raised by these indicators.

  • Immigrants' health status and their health care

    Health is integral to wellbeing and affects the degree and manner of engagement with society as a whole. Healthier immigrants are able to work and earn more and can build broader social networks. Fuller integration in turn improves health outcomes, as immigrants increasingly have the ability to seek health care when needed.Socio-demographic characteristics such as gender and age, participation in risky behaviour (e.g. drinking alcohol or smoking), and living and working conditions are among the most important determinants of health. As immigrants generally have to be in good health to be able to migrate, they tend to be healthier than non-migrants – the so-called healthy migrant effect, which fades with the length of residence, however.The quality of life in the country of origin, the migration process itself, and working and living conditions in the host country also affect health outcomes. Some migrant groups, such as refugees, are particularly vulnerable and may be more prone to certain diseases or mental disorders. The migratory experience itself can cause stress, which may affect migrants’ health outcomes in different ways down the line, depending on socio-economic and health conditions in the home country and how well they settle in the host country. Nutritional habits in the country of origin may also affect health outcomes in the medium-to-long term. Age, educational attainment, and income, too, are important determinants of health.This chapter analyses self-reported health () and the lack of medical treatment () both among immigrants and the native-born. Data-related issues are discussed in Data limitations at the end of this chapter.

  • Civic engagement of immigrants

    Becoming actively involved in the host country’s society is a key element in immigrant integration. By making their voices heard, taking an interest in how society works, and participating in the decisions that shape its future, immigrants show that they are an integral part of their new country – the very objective of integration. There are many forms of civic engagement, be it through associations, voluntary groups, labour unions, or politics. But measuring levels of participation is a very complex matter, as involvement can be highly variable and motivations diverse.Whether obtaining nationality is the ultimate goal of the integration process is a question of keen, ongoing debate among specialists. Being foreign is not in itself proof of failure to integrate, any more than attachment to the country of origin means rejecting the host country. Moreover, the legislation that governs nationality is more restrictive in some countries than in others. Nevertheless, having host‑country nationality is often perceived to be a sign of integration into the host‑country society, particularly since many countries require applicants to take a number of tests relating to their language, values, and culture before they grant nationality. From the viewpoint of the host country, conferring nationality on an immigrant is a way of welcoming him or her into the community of citizens.One fundamental citizen’s right is the right to vote. Participating in elections is therefore viewed as a sign of integration – a desire to influence the life of society by getting involved in selecting those who will govern it.This chapter examines two key aspects of civic engagement: the acquisition of nationality () and, flowing therefrom, voter participation (). For a discussion of those indicators and the issues they raise, see the section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter.

  • Social cohesion and immigrants

    The nature of the relationship between a host society and its immigrant population is a critical factor in integration. If such social cohesion is strong, it will promote integration. If it is weak, immigrants will find it harder to fit in. Social cohesion is hard to measure but can, however, be estimated from certain kinds of information produced by satisfaction surveys.Discrimination against immigrants is one factor that can have a deeply adverse impact on social cohesion, thought its real extent is hard to quantify. It is essential to measure discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, race or nationality, however, because it undermines immigrants’ willingness to invest in education and training, which are the best ways to improve the integration process. Opinion polls are a means of assessing the levels of discrimination that immigrant populations perceive ().Social cohesion can also be measured by analysing the host country’s degree of acceptance of immigration. A high level of acceptance will indirectly promote the conditions for successful integration – if the immigrant population is welcomed, it will be better able to contribute to the life of the community. This report assesses acceptance by gauging public opinion of its perceived impact and with respect to the perceived local conditions for immigrant settlement ().The section entitled Data limitations at the end of the chapter discusses in detail the social cohesion indicators and the issues they raise.

  • Young people with a migrant background

    How well they integrate the offspring of immigrants can be considered a yardstick of host countries’ integration policies. In theory, because they were schooled in their parents’ host country, children of immigrants should not encounter the same difficulties as adult immigrants who arrived in a foreign country as workers, spouses, partners, members of the family, or as humanitarian migrants. Ultimately, their outcomes should be much the same as those of young people with no migrant background and the same social and demographic profiles. Yet that is not what happens in many host countries, particularly in Europe.The chapter begins by considering some basic demographic and immigrant-specific pointers that help situate young people with immigrant parents (). It then goes on to analyse how well integrated they are in host country schools (). It then assesses the educational level () and literacy skills of young adults of foreign parentage () and examines what share of young people have dropped out of school early (). The chapter then looks at the school-to-work transition () and proportions of NEETs () before addressing labour market integration (). The last area of focus is social inclusion and civic involvement: child poverty (13.16), voter participation () and, finally, perceived discrimination ().

  • Third-country nationals in the European Union

    This chapter considers the full set of Zaragoza indicators for third-country nationals in the European Union (for a presentation, see below), comparing their outcomes with those of domestic and EU nationals. Built on existing data for most member states, they are limited in number, comparable in time, productive, cost-effective, simple to understand and communicate, and outcome-focused. They are therefore highly meaningful support tools for monitoring integration policy outcomes at European, national and regional level.The chapter looks first at the size and composition of third-country national populations (14.1). It then goes on to consider their countries of birth and length of residence (14.2), before analyzing outcomes in employment and activity (14.3), unemployment (14.4), self-employment (14.5), overqualification (14.6), levels of education and literacy (14.7), income distribution (14.8), poverty (14.9), housing tenure status (14.10), perceived health status (14.11), long-term resident status (14.12), participation in voting (14.13), the acquisition of nationality (14.14), and perceived discrimination (14.15). Data limitations will be discussed at the end of the chapter.

  • Glossary

    Active: Active, or economically active, people are those who are in employment or seeking employment.

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