L’économie informelle en Afrique face à la crise de la COVID-19

I have the pleasure to announce a new book by S-SAM grantee Simon Barussaud and Fréderic Lapeyre looking at the informal economy in Africa and Covid-19. While the news in Western Europe and North America may be full of vaccinations and worries about overloading hospitals, it’s easy to forget that for many there’s a different reality characterized by getting by economically. This is especially true for everyone in the informal economy. In this new book (in French), the impact of protection measures in Africa on individuals in the informal economy is examined.

Barussaud, Simon, and Frédéric Lapeyre. 2022. L’économie informelle en Afrique face à la crise de la COVID-19. Louvain-la-Neuve: Éditions Academia.

New Literature Study: Links between migration, integration and return

Today I present you a new literature study on the links between migration, integration, and return we (SFM, ICMPD) have carried out for the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

The literature review is available as a report in German and in a French translation, with a summary by the government also available. The literature examines the interdependencies of migration, integration, and return with a focus on Switzerland.

We  cite research highlighting that waiting periods and unemployment in the asylum system in the long term lead to higher costs for the host society if asylum seekers will eventually stay — as is often the case for applicants from some countries of origin. Early language acquisition and learning job-related skills make sense in two respects: they open up greater prospects for asylum seekers if they remain in Switzerland, but also if they return to their country of origin.

We show that migrants leave their country of origin for many different reasons. Nowhere in the literature did we find clear indications that offering integration measures such as language courses or qualification measures would have a discernible influence on the decision to migrate to a particular country. While policies more generally may play a role, such specific active integration policies do not seem to affect work migration, asylum migration, or family reunification.

The reseearch literture is clear that early and intensive promotion of integration leads to long-term cost savings for those people who remain in Switzerland. The economy benefits from domestic workers who, thanks to good preparation, gain a foothold in working life more quickly and can pay for themselves. In addition, successful professional integration and economic independence in Switzerland can also help migrants to become involved in development in their country of origin. The decision to return, however, seems to depend on various factors, and in the case of asylum migration depends primarily on the situation in the country of origin.

Ruedin, Didier, Denise Efionayi-Mäder, Sanda Üllen, Veronika Bilger, and Martin Hofmann. 2019. ‘Wirkungszusammenhänge Migration, Integration und Rückkehr’. Eine Literaturanalyse im Auftrag des SEM in Erfüllung des Postulats 16.3790 «Migration. Langfristige Folgen der Integration». Bern: Staatssekretariat für Migration (SEM).

Call for papers: The Future of Work for Migrants and Minorities

In the context of the research group on migration and minorities of the SSA, we’re launching a call for paper on “The Future of Work for Migrants and Minorities”.

SSA Conference, Neuchâtel, 10–12 September 2019

Labour remains one of the most important sources of income and status, defining who we are to ourselves and to others. As labour is changing, the social and political implications of these changes are unclear. Immigration is both a consequence and a reason of changes at the workplace. On the one hand, migrants are seen as necessary in order to limit the ageing of the population and to answer to the needs of the labour market calling for super qualified workers in certain economic niches but also to flexible and low wages workers easily replaceable. Yet, migrants can be seen as unwanted competitors and threats to local workers, and so doing to social cohesion.

With a focus on changes in the labour market, we seek to address the following questions: What role does immigration play in shaping the future of work? What is the role of refugees who often do not have the skills sought by the local economy? How do changes at work shape immigration patterns? How do changes at work affect immigrants and their descendants? What new conflicts arise because of changes at work, and what kind of solutions can be developed?

The research network migration—minorities seeks to organize panels that showcase current research on the topic. We welcome both theoretically and empirically informed papers on (but not limited to):

  • the role of immigration in shaping the future of work
  • reactions and attitudes to refugees and foreigners at the workplace
  • forms of integration in the labour market, embeddedness and belonging
  • challenges and impact of migration on the economy and social policy
  • challenges and impact of migration on social cohesion and urban organization

Please submit your 200 word abstracts by 5 January 2019 on http://neuchatel.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0xQfCpH64Q8oxsF

Working language of the workshop is English.

Call as PDF

Economic Downturn = Racist Attitudes

A new paper by David W. Johnston and Grace Lordan shows that self-declared attitudes towards people of other races are more negative during economic downturns (when unemployment is higher). This finding is reminiscent to what Marco Pecoraro and I found with regard to attitudes towards foreigners. While we did not make the link to the context and unemployment levels, our analysis demonstrates that the self-declared risk of unemployment is related to negative attitudes towards foreigners.

Now negative attitudes are not the same as discriminatory behaviour. Interestingly, in our meta-analysis of correspondence tests we found no systematic link between the economic situation and discrimination in the labour market. This would suggest that the impact of the economy is only indirect — or that we’re not doing good enough a job in capturing what’s going on.

Johnston, David W., and Grace Lordan. 2015. ‘Racial Prejudice and Labour Market Penalties during Economic Downturns.’ European Economic Review. doi:10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.07.011.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2015. ‘A Foreigner Who Doesn’t Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities.’ International Migration Review, 1–53. doi:10.1111/imre.12162.

Zschirnt, Eva and Ruedin, Didier, Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990-2015 (April 22, 2015). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2597554

Return Migration in Albania: Economic Reasons, not Live Projects

Albanian emigrants tend to move to Greece and Italy, two countries hat were affected severely by the Great Recession. It comes at no surprise then, than the number of return migrants increased sharply after 2008.


Now, we don’t know whether this is really due to the economic situation in Greece and Italy, or whether there was simply an increase of individuals who had planned to return to Albania during that period from the onset.

There are two ways to address this. We could ask the returning migrants, which is what Maroukis and Gema (2013) have done. They suggest that most of these returnees look into re-emigrating in the future: a temporary return to Albania. Perhaps we could call this circular migration.

Another way is to compare the countries from which Albanians are returning. We can see that the number of returnees has increased for those returning from Greece (green) and Italy (blue), but there was no equivalent increase for returnees from Germany (light green) and Switzerland (red).


This corroborates the qualitative studies. The number of Albanians who planned to return was probably stable over the period considered. What has changes is that for some (Greece, Italy), the economic situation has put a — temporary — halt to their life projects. For those in countries less affected by the Great Recession, the migration projects are not affected.

Maroukis, Thanos, and Edi Gema. 2013. “Albanian Circular Migration in Greece: Beyond the State?” In Circular Migration between Europe and its Neighbourhood, edited by Anna Triandafyllidou. Oxford: Oxford University Press.