Do migrants have lower health literacy?

I’m happy to announce the publication of a study on COVID-19-related health literacy. We find that the health literacy of most migrants was just as well as that of the general population, but identify a group of socioeconomically vulnerable migrants with lower levels of health literacy. Nationality is the wrong approach to capture differences in health literacy.

Ruedin, Didier, Johanna Probst, Philippe Wanner, Denise Efionayi-Mäder, and Patrick Bodenmann. 2022. ‘COVID-19-Related Health Literacy of Socioeconomically Vulnerable Migrant Groups’. International Journal of Public Health. 67:1604664.

This research was commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

Are we all transnationals? Studying multiple migrations using sequence analysis

A video abstract of our paper in IMR, taking the perspective of someone living in the country… (I could have done this from the perspective of the “migrant”).

(and yes, I know that there is more to transnationalism than moving to another country)

Zufferey, J., Steiner, I. and Ruedin, D. 2021. ‘The many forms of multiple migrations: Evidence from a sequence analysis in Switzerland, 1998 to 2008’. International Migration Review. DOI55(1):254-279. DOI:10.1177/0197918320914239

Call for Papers: Migrants’ skills wastage in the labor market: a multidisciplinary approach for policy formation

The call for our special issue on brain waste is now official:

Deadline for submissions is 31 July 2022

The topic of migrants’ skills wastage has generated a sizable but scattered body of research spanning economics, demography, sociology, law, and other social sciences over the past few years (Griesshaber and Seibel 2015; Flisi et al. 2017; Leuven and Oosterbek 2011; Pecoraro 2014; Capsada-Munsech 2017; Klink 2008; Zhou et al. 2016). While the topic is interdisciplinary by nature, recent work has been disciplinary, generating field-specific hypotheses, data, methods and applications, to the detriment of interdisciplinary links and policy debate. The risk of continuing on the current trend is that specialist disciplinary lines will not only progressively depleting the benefit of informing and generating new knowledge by studying an effectively interdisciplinary phenomenon but generate policy recommendations that only cater for a partial aspect of the problem. In an extreme scenario, they risk becoming irrelevant.

The objective of this special issue is to produce a reference resource which consolidates the existing research body, summarises key insights across several disciplines, and provide a firm foundation for continued interdisciplinary dialogue aimed at unifying knowledge for policy debate and policy formulation.

Specifically with this call for papers, we seek to consolidate research findings from different disciplines on migrants’ skills wastage. This includes the study of topics such as over-education, the international transferability of human capital, statistical or outright discrimination in the labour market and within firms, migration policy, and methodological approaches addressing the self-selection that characterises the choice to migrate and enter the labour market of the host country.

At the same time, we seek novel approaches that unite different perspectives and allow a continuation of interdisciplinary research on the topic, with the objective of providing clear information for policy use. Examples could include, but no be limited to, topics such as the spatial dimensions associated with the under-use of human capital, inter-generational and household effects of experiencing skills under-use (especially educational choices of children whose parents experience skills mismatches), the development of new databases, methodologies or variables, and migration policy considerations from both sending and receiving countries with across regions within a country.

Submission portal: Submission deadline: July 31, 2022

Zhiming Cheng
Wei Guo
Marco Pecoraro
Didier Ruedin
Massimiliano Tani

New project: The long-term impact of refugees on the local population

Today, we’re starting a new project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Working with Natalia Malancu, Bruno Lanz, Marco Pecoraro, and Philippe Wanner, we will assess the long-term impact of refugees on the labour market, health, reproductive behaviour, well-being, and attitudinal outcomes of the resident population. By looking at past refugee flows, we hope to better understand the likely impact of the rapid arrival of many refugees.

From a purely economic point of view, migration is an efficient means to allocate workers to employers. Indeed, for centuries migration was not only sought by individuals seeking to improve their lives, but also actively encouraged by employers and countries: guest-worker programmes, recruitment drives abroad, or the purported ‘war for talents’ all demonstrate that migration can be encouraged for economic reasons.

By contrast, refugees are driven away from their countries and do not primarily migrate for economic reasons. Fleeing desolate situations and conflict in the country of origin, refugees do not necessarily have the skills and experience to meet economic demands, unlike voluntary migration for economic reasons. Because refugees tend to leave their countries with comparatively little preparation – they flee in reaction to an immediate threat – their economic and social integration (e.g. lack of language) may constitute a further challenge. In the country of destination, some may resist the arrival of refugees — worried about wage dumping, costs of social benefits, tax increases, overpopulation, or a threat to local culture and traditions.

Whilst we know about the potential impact of immigrants and refugees theoretically, and despite an important literature on the economic and attitudinal effects of immigration on the mainstream society, we do not understand well how forced migration and refugees affect the resident population, particularly in Europe. We lack good evidence of the likely long-term impact and how to best handle the integration of immigrants and refugees. In the project, we will focus on three major areas: labour market effects of refugees, effects of refugee arrival on the health, reproductive behaviour and well-being of the resident population, and the implications of refugees on attitudes to immigration. The big bet of the project is that by studying past patterns of rapid arrival of refugees (from former Yugoslavia), we’re in a better position to understand the impact of more recent refugee flows.