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.

getting your facts right — newspaper edition

The Swiss Press Council has upheld a complaint against the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung where they claimed that 70 per cent of the Covid-19 hospital beds were occupied by migrants. Fact is, in Switzerland no such data are collected in hospitals, and the newspaper relied on the estimation of a single nurse in a single hospital. The justification of the newspaper: other media picked up the story afterwards. The press council was not impressed.

Call for papers: Discrimination and Racism in Temporal Perspective

Panel organized at the 19th IMISCOE Annual Conference, Oslo
29 June to 1 July 2022
Co-organized with Patrick Simon and Valentina Di Stasio

Racism is still mostly studied without explicit references to discrimination, and many contributions continue to conceive it as a specific expression of prejudice. While the most blatant forms of racism are barely tolerated in contemporary societies, more subtle and systemic forms of racism continue, as shown by studies on ethnic and racial discrimination and inequalities. In the last twenty years, research on discrimination against immigrants and their descendants has grown significantly, paralleling both the settlement of immigrant populations and the coming of age of their children. Studies document differential treatment and discrimination in different markets (e.g. labour market, housing) and social spheres regulated by principles of equality (e.g. school, health service, police). Patterns of discrimination are embedded in institutional contexts and a larger societal environment, characterized not only by economic uncertainties and increasing political polarization in the public debate around immigrant-related issues, but also by increasing ethnic and cultural diversity and opportunities for interethnic contact. Such changes in the context are likely to affect attitudes and ideology diffusion in majority and minority members.

This panel will bring together researchers on discrimination, racism, and inequalities, tackling these issues from various disciplines, theoretical backgrounds and methods. We welcome empirical studies of discrimination patterns across a large variety of domains (considered separately or in relation to each other), theoretical perspectives on how the prevalence of ethnic discrimination and racism should be explained and conceptualized, and quantitative or qualitative analyses of the repertoire of people’s reactions to discrimination experiences. We are particularly interested in papers that examine temporal aspects of racism and discrimination, including their framing and expressions, forms of resistance and coping strategies, and studies on the (lack of) impact of anti-discrimination policies and legislation on perceived discrimination and on various forms of prejudicial attitudes and anti-immigrant sentiments. We also welcome papers which use and discuss theories about cross-country differences, ethno-racial hierarchies, and the cumulation of risks and disadvantage over time and across domains or generations.

Submit your abstract specifying the research question, data, methods and findings (200 words maximum) at https://neuchatel.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5oHJ0DbZQyJByzI no later than 1 December 2021. For further information, get in touch with Didier Ruedin (didier.ruedin@unine.ch), Patrick Simon (simon@ined.fr) or Valentina Di Stasio (v.distasio@uu.nl). The notification of acceptance will be made by 10 December 2021.

Full Call for Papers

Out now: Politicising Immigration in Times of Crisis — or how to measure the impact of a crisis when we don’t agree when the crisis was

I’m happy to announce a new publication in JEMS on politicizing immigration in times of crisis. Especially so, as it is the ‘first one’ for two of my excellent co-authors!

The basic setup is quite simple, we look at data on the politicization of immigration — our update on the SOM project. It’s a broad understanding of politicization, looking at how different actors (broadly defined) talk about immigration and immigrant integration. We use claims-analysis using printed newspapers as the basis, which allows us to compare the situation over time. We then examine how the nature of politicization differs during times of crisis compared to non-crisis periods.

We have N=2,853 claims to examine, the oil crisis of the 1970s and the financial crisis of the late 2000s as two external crises not directly related to immigration. Theoretical considerations provide us with expectations of how claims-making during periods of crisis differs qualitatively: we look at salience (how many claims are made), polarization (the positions taken in claims), actor diversity (who makes the claims), and frames (how claims are justified).

And then you sit down to define the crisis periods… we started with discussions in the team, soon realizing that we don’t agree. Then we went to the literature, trying to find a more authoritative definition of when these crises started and ended. And then we fully embraced uncertainty: basically there is no agreement on when these crises stared or ended. The solution is also relatively simple: we just used all the possible definitions (a bit of combinatorics there…) and run separate regression models. 7,524 of them to be precise. The nice thing with that is that you really have to embrace uncertainty, and that graphs really are more intuitive than any arbitrary measure of central tendency.

Yes, you get things that are fairly obvious (we can quibble about effect size):

Sample effect size; grey dashed line on right indicates zero; blue dashed line on the left indicates the median coefficient across all the regression models.

and you get things that are simply unclear, with values around zero quite credible, but would you bet against en effect size of +0.05 or -0.05?

Sample effect size; grey dashed line on left indicates zero; blue dashed line on the right indicates the median coefficient across all the regression models.

What I really like about this kind of presentation is that it naturally embraces our uncertainty about the state of things. Yes, “crisis” is vague as a concept, yes, it is difficult to operationalize it (otherwise we would not run 7,524 regression models), but we still can discern systematic patterns of how the politicization of migration in times of crisis differs from non-crisis moments.

Bitschnau, Marco, Leslie Ader, Didier Ruedin, and Gianni D’Amato. 2021. “Politicising Immigration in Times of Crisis: Empirical Evidence from Switzerland.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Online First. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1936471. [ Open Access]