What is a maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER)?

Maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER) are relatively rare positions which were apparently introduced in universities in the French-speaking area of Switzerland in the 1990s.

MER are part of the corps intermédiaire (German: Mittelbau) along with PhD researchers and postdoctoral researchers. They are very similar to the Maître-assistante (MA) positions, also unique to French-speaking universities in Switzerland, as far as I know, with the only difference that MER are open-ended after evaluation, whereas MA positions are fixed-term (this makes MER the only positions in the corps intermédiaire that can be open-ended).

As other positions of the corps intermédiaire, MER are not part of the decision-making in universities, normally have no assistants, and may be excluded from some internal resources. They are attached to a chair, which limits independence in teaching and research, and typically teach more than professors. Despite the R in the name, apparently some MER effectively teach full time. Compared to professors, MER and MA have a lower salary and are often employed part-time. Unlike Lecturers in the British system, no promotion is foreseen for MER (at all). In this sense, the ‘official’ translation of MER (and MA) into ‘senior lecturer’ is inaccurate.

Image credit: CC-by Jeena Paradies

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).

New paper on exposure in the job and attitudes to immigrants

I have the pleasure to announce our new paper on attitudes to foreigners. Marco and I wanted to move beyond the share of foreigners in geographically defined areas: We examined the share of foreigners in one’s job and how this is linked to attitudes. A key motivation for doing this was that many contributions on attitudes to immigrants seem to dismiss competitive threat in the labour market despite not providing a realistic test of such competition. Just think a moment: I’m not competing with (foreignany) workers in the construction sector, and I’m not competing with many of the highly educated immigrants workers either. We have segmented labour markets, and we should account for them in our analyses.

We find that a higher share of foreigners in one’s occupation correlates with more negative attitudes to immigrants. This suggests that workers react to competition with foreigners. When we dig deeper, we find that objective pressures in the labour market (we use the unemployment rate in each occupation) matter, just like contact with foreigners at work seem to alleviate negative attitudes. In fact, it turns out that sorting on job quality can probably account for these factors, especially objective pressures in the labour market.

Where does this leave us? It appears that workers react to immigrants at work in a differentiated manner. On the one hand, they dislike workers competing with them, on the other hand, they welcome them when they help overcome labour market shortages.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2019. “Occupational Exposure to Foreigners and Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities.” Migration Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/migration/mnz006.

Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration

I am very happy to announce a second paper published from our SNIS project on attitudes to immigrants: “Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration” by Sergi Pardos-Prado and Carla Xena out now in AJPS. It develops some of the key tenets of the SNIS project to new levels and provides a clean application.

Similar to what Marco Pecoraro concluded when looking at the risk of unemployment, Sergi and Carla come to the conclusion that economic competition theories cannot be dismissed. Here they focus on skills specificity and the ability to avoid competition with immigrant workers, and highlight that highly educated people are not immune to anti-immigrant attitudes.

Pardos‐Prado, S., & Xena, C. (2018.). Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration. American Journal of Political Science, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12406
Pecoraro, M., & Ruedin, D. (2016). A Foreigner Who Does Not Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes toward Equal Opportunities. International Migration Review, 50(3), 628–666. https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12162

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