How Many Sans Papiers Are There in Switzerland

I have written a blog post for the NCCR on the move on how many sans-papiers there are in Switzerland (in German). The blog post draws on a study I was involved in two years ago, where we estimated the number of sans-papiers in Switzerland. The main message: of course we don’t know how many there are, so our best estimate also comes with uncertainty. Strangely enough, when this study is cited in politics, I can always see a single precise figure — a figure we always greatly de-emphasized in the report.

Zotero on Ubuntu Does Not Update: How to Fix the Permissions

My Zotero did not update, showing a dialog that while there is an update available, I apparently lacked the permissions to update. First I tried to chmod the directory where I extracted Zotero to, and the Zotero binary, but that did not change the error message. It turns out there is another directory that needs to be changed:

sudo chmod 707 /usr/bin/zotero && sudo chmod -R 707 /opt/zotero

(in the terminal) and now everything works as it should.


A colleague recently commented that he is confused where I stand with regard to the academic use of MIPEX data. Apparently I have been rather critical and quite enthusiastic about it. I guess this sums it up quite well. I’ve always been critical of the (historical) lack of a theoretical base for the indicators used, and the often uncritical use of the aggregate scores as indicators of ‘immigration policy’ in the literature. I’m enthusiastic about its coverage (compared to other indices), the effort to keep it up-to-date, and the availability of the detailed data.

A few years back, I verified that it is OK to use the MIPEX as a scale (as is often done), highlighting redundancy in the items and that such scales could be improved:

In the context of the SOM project, we have demonstrated that it is feasible to expand the MIPEX indicators back in time. We did so for 7 countries back to 1995. I refined these data by using the qualitative descriptions provided to identify the year of the change, giving year-on-year changes since 1995 for the 7 SOM countries. These data are experimental in that they rely on the documentation and not original research. If that’s not enough, Camilla and I have then created a complete time series of the MIPEX indicators in Switzerland since 1848. This showed that we definitely can go back in time, but also that quite a few of the things MIPEX measures were not regulated a century ago.

Even with the short time in the SOM data, these data are quite insightful:

Later I provided a different approach: re-assembling! The idea is generic and does not apply to the MIPEX alone: make use of the many indicators in the database, but use your own theory to pick and choose the ones you consider most appropriate (rather than be constrained by the presentation in the MIPEX publications). I have demonstrated that the MIPEX data can be used to closely approximate the Koopmans et al. data, but immediately cover a wider range of countries and observe changes over time. Now we can have theory and coverage!

And yes, we can apply these data to gain new insights, like the nature of the politicization of immigrant groups: