Project Project
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Immigration policies in the Western world: New indicators, causes and effects

Project Management
applied for funding by the DFG

Theoretical background and objectives

This project proposes to create a set of sophisticated quantitative indicators to measure immigration policies in 27 OECD countries. By means of this new and innovative dataset the causes and effects of immigration policies will be studied. Over the last two decades both immigration politics and research on immigration issues have become very important. So far, there is however hardly any study that investigates immigration policies over a large sample of countries. This stands in stark contrast to the study fields of integration and citizenship policies where more systematic data have been collected. Therefore, the first aim of this project is to create indicators that enable us to compare a large variety of countries. Not only formal regulations, but also control mechanisms and the implementation of regulations will be studied. Moreover, the four fields of labour migration, family reunification, asylum seekers/refugees and access rights for co-nationals will be differentiated. The availability of such a dataset opens completely new research perspectives and allows testing already existing arguments in a more systematic way. Finally, the effects of immigration policies on migration patterns and the integration of immigrants will be analysed. We will be able to test to what extent immigration policies lead to the intended output. By doing so, the effectiveness of immigration policies and the control capacity of Western states will be investigated. Within the MIT research programme this project contributes to the study of institutions and its effects and complements project 1.1 on "Citizenship Rights for Immigrants: National Paths and Cross-National Convergence" that has created indicators for integration and citizenship policies.

Research design, data and methodology

The data collection of this project is divided into three parts. Following the lead of other studies that created integration and citizenship indicators we employ in the first part a double strategy combining the analysis of documents/regulations with expert questionnaires. There is already a series of reports that have collected data on immigration policies, which provide the "raw material" without however quantifying their data. As none of the existing reports covers all countries of our study, it is necessary to study the original legal texts for the missing cases. Moreover, it will be necessary to contact country experts that will fill in detailed questionnaires and control information that we gathered on the basis of documents. At the second stage of the project, a series of hypotheses about causes and effects will be systematically tested applying a large range of multivariate analyses (cross-country comparisons and time-series). For this purpose, existing datasets need to be compiled to operationalise the explanatory variables. In the third step, the implementation processes will be studied by means of detailed case studies and semi-structured interviews with bureaucrats. More generally this part of the project seeks to investigate the black box of the administration: How do civil servants interpret laws and regulations, how do they perceive the problem of immigration, which world views do they have and how do these correspond with citizenship models? Studying implementation processes helps us to understand the link or the gap between formal legislation and the outcome of immigration policies. Case studies in four countries will be conducted and selected on the basis of a typology that has been created in the previous phase of this project. For each case study the imple­mentation of current regulations of the four issues labour-migration, family reunification, asylum seekers/refugees and co-nationals will be studied. To prepare the interviews the current regulations and the most recent legislation processes will be studied in detail on the basis of documents, newspaper articles and existing studies applying the process-tracing method. Once we have a clear picture of the organisation of the responsible administrative bodies 15 to 20 persons will be selected per policy issue and country – thus 60 to 80 interviews per country.