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Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015

Settling In

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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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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.

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