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).

Should We Use Stop Words?

When using automatic content analysis like Wordscores or Wordfish, stop words may be used. This is a contentious issue, with recommendations ranging from definitely use stop words to those who argue that stop words are a bad thing. What to do?

To me this sounded more like an empirical question than something beliefs could settle. Using professionally translated texts (i.e. party manifestos available in two languages), I examined how stop words affect predicted scores (i.e. party positions). Lowe & Benoit (2013) highlight that words considered as a priori uninformative can help predict party positions altogether. This can be used as an argument against using stop words. In my analysis, I applied just a few stop words, consisting almost entirely of grammatical terms like articles and conjunctions (function words). It turns out that removing these words can almost entirely remove the impact of language on predicted scores. Put differently, removing words that really carry no meaning can improve the predictions.

So should we use stop words? Yes, but we don’t need many stop words, and using stop words that clearly carry no substantive information seems to be a good idea.

Lowe, Will, and Kenneth Benoit. 2013. “Validating estimates of latent traits from textual data using human judgment as a benchmark.” Political Analysis 21 (3): 298–313. doi:10.1093/pan/mpt002.

Ruedin, D. 2013. “The Role of Language in the Automatic Coding of Political Texts.” Swiss Political Science Review 19 (4): 539–45. doi:doi:10.1111/spsr.12050.

The role of source language in Wordscores etc.

My paper on the role of source language in the automatic coding of political texts (Wordscores, dictionary coding) is now available online. I make use of Swiss party manifestos to examine the impact of source language on party positions derived from the manifestos: does it matter if a French or German manifesto is used? The conclusion is that both stemming and particularly stop words are important to obtain comparable results for Wordscores, while the keyword-based dictionary approach is not affected by language differences. Replication material is available on my Dataverse.