Table of Contents

  • International migration is high on the policy agenda in many countries and it is generally expected that, to respond to labour shortages and the decline in the size of the working-age population, recourse to further migration will be necessary in most countries in the future. For migration to play the role expected of it in this regard, however, it is clearly necessary that the current stock of immigrants and future arrivals be integrated into the labour markets and societies of the receiving countries and be perceived as contributing to the economy and development of the host country.

  • The Australian situation with respect to the integration of immigrants is a rather unique one. It differs from that of the other OECD countries that are participating in this first round of country reviews (Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden) in several important ways. Australia is a country of immigration par excellence. It has been settled by immigrants, and immigration is considered part of the national heritage. For decades, there has been a comparatively large public consensus on the importance and need for immigration and, as a consequence, integration. The economy is strongly dependent on immigrants, and about 25% of the workforce are foreign-born.

  • The labour market integration of immigrants is a very topical issue in Denmark. There is a general belief that their labour market outcomes are below those of the nativeborn, and a first glance at key indicators bears this out. Improvement of these outcomes has taken a prominent place in recent government proposals to meet future challenges of the welfare state. The government is trying to improve the contribution of immigration to meeting these challenges by improving the integration of those immigrants and their offspring who are already in the country and by more restrictive entry policies for some groups of migrants – Denmark’s rules for family reunification, for example, are among the most stringent in the OECD.

  • Germany is a country that only formally acknowledged itself as a country of immigration in 2005. This reflects a long-standing view of immigrants as guest-workers, that is, persons who came to Germany to satisfy labour needs that implicitly were considered to be temporary and who were to return to their countries of origin when the need for their services no longer existed. The term “guest-worker” (gastarbeiter) is itself a German neologism. At the same time, however, Germany was the destination country for significant numbers of immigrants of a different kind but that were not considered immigrants because of their German origin. These are the so-called ethnic Germans (Aussiedler) who arrived in Germany from Central and Eastern Europe in the years following World War II.

  • Sweden is not among the countries that generally come to mind when one considers the question of immigration in OECD countries and the integration of immigrants in the labour market. Yet it figures among OECD countries that have a relatively high share of foreign-born persons in its population (12.4%), almost as many in relative terms as the United States. This is not a recent development. At the beginning of the 1990s, the percentage was already between 9 and 10%, among them guest-worker migrants from the 1960s and early 1970s, persons from other Nordic countries having moved in the context of the Nordic common labour market (since 1954) and refugees and their families, for whom Sweden has long been viewed as a haven. However, apart from the free movement of persons from other Nordic countries and more recently, from other countries of the European Union, there has been little labour migration in Sweden since the first oil crisis.