Reports & Data
Each year over three million migrants legally enter OECD countries looking for better opportunities and safer environments for themselves and their families. In a time of falling birth rates and aging labour force host countries are in need of ensuring smooth and successful transitions for migrants seeking higher standards of living and new beginnings. Yet, many challenges exist.
Whereas migrants used to seek temporary or guest work status, now people are migrating with the intention of staying and settling their families. With this change of intention comes a need to address and adapt the desired outcomes of migration policies. Social and economic integration must now be considered. Host countries need to change their approach from “importing labour; to importing people.”
Many migration policy researchers have drawn attention to the disconnect that often exists between national and local contexts. Scholars assert that integration by definition is a holistic process. Authentic integration is not possible if/when social and economic policies are incongruent; or likewise, if national and regional policies conflict. For instance, decision-makers who implement national migration policies in an effort to meet an economic need (such as labour), yet neglect to consider the possible affects that policy may have on social congruency at the local level, may in fact create entirely new concerns and unintended consequences. Furthermore, even when decision-makers re-frame migration policies through the lenses of multiculturalism, integration is not an automatic outcome.
One method of confronting the often translucent barriers to integration is through education – whether it takes the form of school curriculum, diversity training for teachers or special community programs. It is with these considerations in mind that we approach this review of evidence.
The purpose of this review is to systematically and transparently gather, analyze and synthesize evidence-based research devoted to evaluating migration and integration best practices and policies in 36 countries. A variety of academic databases, websites and key research journals were searched, resulting in an initial capture of 4,077 articles. The application of specific inclusion and quality-assessment criteria eventually reduced this number to 20. Studies were then coded and analyzed to produce a comprehensive synthesis of the research.
This review found a decisive lack of research seeking to measure the effectiveness of migration policies and initiatives. Conversely, there is a substantial body of editorial and theoretical literature discussing the effects of globalization and its consequences on migration and integration. It focuses on the inequalities and discrimination minority groups face after migrating to a new country and it draws attention to the perceived north-south gap brought about by expanding global markets.
There appears to be a sharp and pervasive distinction in the migration literature between child and adult populations. General policies geared towards adult populations appear to view economic stability as a proxy for integration, whereas policies or programs geared towards children use language proficiency as a proxy for integration. According to migration scholars, neither of these two factors, taken in isolation, are good indicators. Many scholars believe that migration policy development needs to be, by virtue of the context within which migration occurs, a holistic process insofar as integration will not occur without a concerted effort on the part of decision-makers to address the inequalities and discrimination minority groups face after migrating to a new country.
While there is an abundance of theoretical research clearly pointing to the need for greater concentration on anti-discrimination program and policy development, this review found that researchers need to concentrate on evaluating existing anti-discrimination programs in an empirically robust manner so decision-makers can feel confident about the effectiveness of such programs and policies prior to their implementation.
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