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Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey (SCIICS)

Project Management
Evelyn Ersanilli (University of Oxford)

external staff member:
Verena Seibel
guest researcher and PhD candidate at Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Theoretical background and objectives

This project aims to investigate the effect of three different types of contextual effects on immigrant integration: those related to the regions of origin of immigrants (e.g., levels of religiosity and socio-economic prosperity), those related to the localities in which they have settled within the country of immigration (e.g., levels of immigrant concentration and local unemployment), and those related to the national contexts of the countries of immigration (e.g., citizenship and welfare state regimes). It does so by comparing the levels of structural and socio-cultural integration of Turkish immigrants in six countries (Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Sweden) and Moroccan immigrants in four countries (Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria). The study includes a comparison group of natives.

The countries covered by the study represent different integration models and citizenship regimes. They vary in their degree of granting individual, cultural and religious group rights to migrants. The study has a quasi-experimental nature insofar as the immigrant sample includes only immigrants from the guest-worker period and their offspring, and half of the immigrant sample comes from a selected number of provinces in the country of origin. This design minimises the role of migration period and ensures that there is sufficient overlap between the samples in the different countries in terms of regions of origin. Topics of the survey range from labour market position and education to identification, segregation, interethnic social contacts, religiosity and attitudes towards cultural preservation. The native sample moreover includes questions about attitudes towards immigrants.

Research design, methodology and outlook

Data were collected in a bilingual phone survey during the first half of 2008. In each country, a minimum of 500 respondents for each group was surveyed, resulting in a total number of 9 365 valid observations. The data set has been supplemented with a broad set of context data on the ethnic composition of the local resident population, the regional labour market situation in the host country, and certain cultural and political aspects in the respondent's origin provinces, gathered from various official statistics. All respondents had the choice to answer the interview questions in either the host country or their origin country language. The study thus avoids the drawbacks of other international studies conducted only in the host country language, by ensuring the inclusion of all groups of migrants, even of those with poor host country language command.

MIT researchers are currently working on a collective book project analysing the different aspects of integration, i.e. cultural retention and assimilation, segregation and social cohesion, and structural assimilation and intergenerational mobility, under a common theoretical framework. The analytical strategies in the different chapters vary according to the topic and the nature of the dependent variable, and include multivariate regressions techniques, structural equation models and multilevel approaches.