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.

Parallel Universes

Two recent books examine the politiclization of migration in the news in Europe. It’s great to see different takes on this important topic, but having contributed to an earlier similar study with an extensive study of how the media report immigration, it struck me how much we’re working in parallel universes. The excellent REMINDER project managed to go 3 years without discovering the work by Van der Brug et al., the equally excellent TransSOL project did find it. Both H2020 projects start in 2015, after the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, whereas Van der Brug et all covered 1995 to 2009. Should we count this as a failure to publicize the work, or are we simply looking at parallel universes where each universe prolifically produces new knowledge…?

Cinalli, Manlio, Hans-Jörg Trenz, Verena K. Brändle, Olga Eisele, and Christian Lahusen. 2021. Solidarity in the Media and Public Contention over Refugees in Europe. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2021.

Strömbäck, Jesper, Christine E. Meltzer, Jakob-Moritz Eberl, Christian Schemer, and Hajo G. Boomgaarden. 2021. Media and Public Attitudes Toward Migration in Europe: A Comparative Approach. Routledge.

Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015. The Politicisation of Migration. Abingdon: Routledge.

Excellence by Nonsense

I know it’s 5 years old, but I still think this description of academia deserves a wider audience.

In this chapter, Binswanger (a critic of the current scientific process) explains how artificially staged competitions affect science and how they result in nonsense. An economist himself, Binswanger provides examples from his field and shows how impact factors and publication pressure reduce the quality of scientific publications. Some might know his work and arguments from his book ‘Sinnlose Wettbewerbe’.

Binswanger, Mathias. 2014. ‘Excellence by Nonsense: The Competition for Publications in Modern Science’. In Opening Science: The Evolving Guide on How the Internet Is Changing Research, Collaboration and Scholarly Publishing, edited by Sönke Bartling and Sascha Friesike, 49–72. New York: Springer. [open access]

Would I like to pay to contribute to a book nobody reads?

I got this e-mail today:

Dear Dr. Ruedin,

I would like to invite you to contribute a chapter to a new open access book project under the editorship of Dr. Ingrid Muenstermann. The current working title of the book is “Immigration”.

That’s a really specific topic. (Honestly, most academic spam I get is even less specific.) Fortunately they offer a link to tell me more about this book project:

Check out the project outline for suggested topics, deadlines and information regarding the publishing process via your Invitation Page [link removed]

On this page, I learn that “This book will be a self-contained collection of scholarly papers targeting an audience of practicing researchers, academics, PhD students and other scientists.” and “The authors are given the liberty of choosing a topic which best suits their current research efforts. In other words, we do not limit you in terms of the topic but encourage you to present your work. Later, when all chapter proposals are collected, the editor will give a more general direction of the book and decide on its scope.”

That’s great, I get to write on anything I want. Nobody really cares; surely there’s a huge readership out there for this kind of book… not! The e-mail even provides information on the publisher:

InTech has been at the forefront of open access publishing for over 10 years, overcoming the challenges associated with restricted access to knowledge by providing free, unlimited access to scientific content to our readers, and helping our authors achieve global recognition.

My name is Ana and I will be your personal contact during the entire publishing process. Feel free to contact me anytime. I hope you will join us in this project.


Ana Simcic
Publishing Process Manager

[contact details removed]

I’m not sure why I’m hesitating.

Don’t we all seek seek global recognition? The publisher sure sounds important (does it matter that I have never heard of them?), and is a specialist in STM (science, technology, and medicine; just the kind of publisher I need to promote my research on “immigration”). It’ll only cost me €670 APC (at least the APC is mentioned somewhere on their website). The book will even be submitted to be included in the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index…

Can you please just stop this?