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MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration Releases New Book, Policy Paper Examining Effects of Global Recession on Immigrant Integration Programs

Press Release
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration Releases New Book, Policy Paper Examining Effects of Global Recession on Immigrant Integration Programs

LONDON — With austerity at the forefront of European government policy debates and rising debt levels sure to catalyze additional difficult public spending decisions, immigrant integration programs have been an early place for budget cuts in some countries.

At a book launch event today in London supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Migration Policy Institute’s (MPI) Transatlantic Council on Migration released its latest work — companion efforts examining the global financial downturn’s effects on immigrant integration funding in the European Union and on immigrants across the Atlantic.

Prioritizing Integration, the Transatlantic Council on Migration’s fourth book, takes stock of the fallout from the economic slowdown on immigration in Europe and the United States, from significant cuts in public budgets to a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment. The volume, produced in partnership with the Bertelsmann Stiftung (which, with the Barrow Cadbury Trust, is a Council policy partner), takes a systematic look at the impact on immigrants, particularly among five countries selected as case studies: Germany, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The book lays out the differing impacts on immigrants within these countries: In Spain, the hardest-hit EU economy, unemployment skyrocketed for all residents, but at a much faster pace for immigrants; Ireland fared little better, and after a brief turn as country of immigration, has reverted to its history as a country of emigration; Germany’s economy remained much stronger and the gap between native and immigrant employment did not widen; and both the United States and the United Kingdom saw rising unemployment, but immigrants’ prospects, especially in the US labor market, are once again improving.

The case studies in Prioritizing Integration examine recession-era unemployment rates for immigrant and native-born workers, as well as poverty and other metrics of well-being, and also examine changes in migration patterns.

“The migration trends that looked like the ‘new normal’ in the economic booms of the 1990s and 2000s have been significantly disrupted — at least for now,” said MPI President and Council Convenor Demetrios Papademetriou, who co-authored the volume. “The question for the future is whether we are witnessing a temporary anomaly or a more fundamental inflection point.”

“Within these countries, the impact of the economic crisis has fallen extremely unevenly: youth, young men and particularly young minorities have seen devastating losses,” added Dr. Papademetriou. “Redressing the balance will be an enormous challenge for receiving countries, especially as integration programs fall victim to the ongoing budget cuts.”

In a new Council paper released today in London, Immigrant Integration in a Time of Austerity, MPI European Policy Fellow Elizabeth Collett reaffirms the book’s findings with fresh analysis of the current and potential future outcomes for immigrant integration programs in EU countries.

Collett finds that, with immigration at the forefront of many austerity debates, some European governments are choosing to cut integration programming and those that held off may be unable to avoid public funding cuts in the future. At the same time, while some countries are using integration funding as a stopgap measure for more vulnerable migrant populations or even maintaining their integration objectives in the face of severe economic hardship (such as Portugal and Sweden), others are using the austerity measures as part of a changing political philosophy to diminish integration funding altogether (such as in the Netherlands and, to some extent, the United Kingdom).

The report, based in part on questionnaires completed by representatives of the European Union’s National Contact Points on Integration, is available here.

The Transatlantic Council on Migration, comprised of senior policymakers, opinion leaders and thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic, is a unique deliberative body that examines vital policy issues and informs migration policymaking processes in North America and Europe. More on the Council, its membership and research can be found at www.migrationpolicy.org/transatlantic.

Reporters interested in reviewing Prioritizing Integration are asked to contact MPI Director of Communications Michelle Mittelstadt at mmittelstadt@migrationpolicy.org or 202-266-1910 . For others, the book may be ordered here.

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The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org.