Challenges and opportunities in migrant integration
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CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN
WHAT IS HAPPENING NEXT?
SECOND GENERATIONS OF MIGRANTS IN EUROPE AND THEIR
TRANSITION TO THE LABOUR MARKET: A CHALLENGE FOR CHANGING
5 July 2013
The FEPS Young Academics Network is organised with the support of the Renner Institut.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FEPS YOUNG ACADEMICS NETWORK ............................................................................................................ 2
AUTHORS ....................................................................................................................................................... 4
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN MIGRANT INTEGRATION.................................................................. 5
Rosarno: The effect of the policies precluding foreign workers’ labor and social mobility ...................... 6
Legalizations as a starting point for migrant integration .......................................................................... 8
Overcoming stereotypes about migration: A prerequisite to fostering the settled migrants’ social and
labor mobility .......................................................................................................................................... 15
WHAT IS HAPPENING NEXT? Second generations of migrants in Europe and their transition to the labor
market: a challenge for changing societies ................................................................................................. 20
Introduction: The challenge of integrating second-generation migrants ............................................... 20
Evidences from the literature on second generations and the labor market ......................................... 21
Is the integration of second generations taking place in Europe? .......................................................... 23
Addressing the lack of integration of second generations: policy recommendations ............................ 27
FEPS YOUNG ACADEMICS NETWORK
The Young Academics Network (YAN) was established in March 2009 by the Foundation of European
Progressive Studies (FEPS) with the support of the Renner Institut to gather progressive PhD candidates
and young PhD researchers, who are ready to use their academic experience in a debate about the Next
Europe. The founding group was composed of awardees of the “Call for Paper” entitled “Next Europe,
Next Left” – whose articles also help initiating the FEPS Scientific Magazine “Queries”. Quickly after, with
the help of the FEPS member foundations, the group enlarged – presently incorporating around 30
outstanding and promising young academics.
FEPS YAN meets in the Viennese premises of Renner Institut, which offers great facilities for both
reflections on the content and also on the process of building the network as such. Both elements
constitute mutually enhancing factors, which due to innovative methods applied makes this Network
also a very unique project. Additionally, the groups work has been supervised by the Chair of the Next
Left Research Programme, Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer – who at multiple occasions joined the sessions of the
FEPS YAN, offering his feedback and guidance.
This paper is one of the results of the second cycle of FEPS YAN, (the first one ended with three papers in
June 2011), in which 5 key themes were identified and are being currently researched by FEPS YAN
working groups. These topics encompass: “Education, Labour and Skills”, “Economic governance in the
EU”, “Migration and Reassessment of integration models”, “Youth unemployment” and “Social Europe
and public opinion”. Each of the meetings is an opportunity for the FEPS YAN to discuss the current state
of their research, presenting their findings and questions both in the plenary, as also in the respective
working groups. The added value of their work is the pan-European, innovative, interdisciplinary
character – not to mention, that it is by principle that FEPS wishes to offer a prominent place to this
generation of academics, seeing in it a potential to construct alternative that can attract young people to
progressivism again. Though the process is very advanced already, the FEPS YAN remains a Network –
and hence is ready to welcome new participants.
FEPS YAN plays also an important role within FEPS structure as a whole. The FEPS YAN members are
asked to join different events (from large Conferences, such as FEPS “Call to Europe” or “Renaissance for
Europe” and PES Convention to smaller High Level Seminars and Focus Group Meetings) and encouraged
to provide inputs for publications (i.e. for FEPS Scientific Magazine “Queries”). Enhanced participation of
the FEPS YAN Members in the overall FEPS life and increase of its visibility remains one of the strategic
goals of the Network for 2013.
For more information please contact the FEPS colleagues in charge of the FEPS YAN’s coordination: Ania
Skrzypek, FEPS Senior Research Fellow at [email protected], or Judit Tanczos, FEPS Policy
Advisor at [email protected]
Laura CAROLI holds a Phd in Geopolitics, Geostrategy, Geoeconomics,
obtained at Trieste University with a research on second generation of
migrants in Italy. After 3 years as research fellow at Italian think tank
Fondazione Italianieuropei, she worked for the chairman of the Italian
Interparliamentary control committee on information and security services
from 2010 to 2013.
Piotr PLEWA (Ph.D., University of Delaware, USA) researched international
migration for the International Organization for Migration, European
University Institute and Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla. His most
recent publications contributed to the Encyclopedia of Global Human
Migration, International Migration, Migraciones Internacionales and
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN MIGRANT INTEGRATION
The onset of the 2008/09 economic crisis has baffled European policymakers and societies with a
question of whether to integrate or repatriate migrant populations, and how? While having pushed the
question to the top of public agendas, the economic crisis has not been the main reason for the
reassessment of migrant integration policies – the crisis of integration policies implemented so far has.
What policies should European countries consider to help migrants better cope with the negative effects
of the crisis, including unemployment and xenophobia?
The paper will consist of three parts. The first part will reconstruct the 2010 migrant-native population
tensions in Rosarno. It will argue that the clashes in Rosarno could have been prevented if Italian
authorities had facilitated migrants’ social and labor mobility so that like Italian citizens also migrants
would not be tied to the jobs and geographical areas characterized by poor unionization and difficult
working and living conditions.
The second part will analyze Italian policy measures aimed to control irregular migration. It will focus on
migrants who have lost their legal status while already in Italy. It will argue that apart from being
controversial in a democratic setting, forced repatriations have been logistically, financially and
politically challenging. Voluntary returns, on the other hand, have not been comprehensive enough to
encourage migrants to return. While Italy struggled to solve its integration challenge by encouraging
migrants to leave, it has been relatively effective in encouraging them to stay: some 1.66 million
migrants participated in Italy’s legalizations indicating that if given an opportunity migrants are able to
secure jobs and positively contribute to the Italian society.
The paper will close suggesting that legalizations have been a positive starting point in the elaboration of
sustainable migration policies, but need to be complemented by more comprehensive measures to
ensure migrants’ labor and social mobility, so that Italy does not exclude certain members of the society,
the way France or Germany did in the aftermath of the 1945-1973 foreign worker admissions.
Integrating migrants is necessary to prevent them from becoming the scapegoats in the context of
economic and social malaise.
For reasons of parsimony, the scope of the paper is limited to the case study of Italy. However, there are
sufficient migration-related similarities between Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal for the lessons of this
study to be useful in other Southern European countries as well. Similarly to Italy, also Spain, Portugal
and Greece have complemented expulsions and voluntary returns with migrants’ legalizations. This was
because in those countries too migrant workers have suffered from illegality, precarious living and
working conditions, and social exclusion which precipitated Rosarno-like tragedies, such as the one in El
Ejido in Spain, in 2000. The paper may be instructive to other European countries as well. Even in the
context of the economic crisis European countries have called for the admission of new foreign workers,
as evidenced by the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on seasonal workers. Admission of
new foreign workers will only make sense if the old ones are granted legal status and social and labor
mobility. Legalization of migrants already present in Europe could help European employers overcome
labor shortages, while at the same warranting migrants who have integrated in the host state’s economy
and society a path to permanent status compatible with the human rights norms that all EU states
Rosarno: The effect of the policies precluding foreign workers’ labor and social
In February 2000, tensions broke out between Moroccan workers and local population in El Ejido, a town
in Southern Spain which relied heavily on migrants for their work in fruit and vegetable production. The
incident demonstrated the dangerous effects of social exclusion. It precipitated the debate on the
improvement of migrants’ integration in Spain and contributed to passage ofthe Organic Law on the
Rights and Liberties of Foreigners (4/2000). The law rightly recognized the settlement of migrants in
Spain by granting them a number of rights. Regardless of their legal status, all migrant children received
the right to public education. All immigrants were given access to the national health care system, public
housing services and social security protections as well as union membership. The law 4/2000 authorized
legalization. Out of 244 300 applicants, 188 000 were able to regularize their status (OECD, 2002: 253).
Like El Ejido, Rosarno is an important agricultural center at the toe of Italy. It lies on fertile soils which
support profitable citrus, olive and wine production. In January 2010, Rosarno witnessed the eruption of
violence after an Italian resident wounded an African migrant worker. Migrants responded by burning
cars and vandalizing shops. Residents retaliated against foreigners.
Rosarno incident was not an anomaly, but a part of a pattern, whereby the policymakers’ unwillingness
to recognize Italy as an immigration land precipitated the formation of a disenfranchised underclass
vulnerable to discrimination and abuse.
In February 2009, immigrants set fire in the detention center on the island of Lampedusa where many
had been held awaiting deportation (New York Times, 2009). In December 2008, in Castel Volturno,
tensions between local residents and immigrants broke out when a gunman entered a former factory
where over a hundred of farm workers were sleeping. Two migrants were shot and one was seriously
injured (Hooper, 2010). Even though both in the case of Rosarno and Castel Volturno the media and the
authorities pointed to the possible involvement of Italian mafia (Saviano, 2010: A17). But migrants who
took to the streets were less concerned about identifying the wrongdoers, and more with the extension
of their rights, because it was precisely their inability to enjoy the same rights as Italian citizens that keep
them tied to the jobs and areas controlled by mafia.
Much of the work in Rosarno is done by temporary immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe.
Employers in the less stable jobs prefer to hire workers on short-term contracts, so that they could
dismiss them without penalty when the contracts expire. A third of workers hired in 2009-10 had
contracts shorter than a year (Migration News, 2010c). Particularly vulnerable are agricultural workers
as they tend to be contracted on the shortest, often daily contracts.
In the peak of the season the size of the province increases by one fourth, as a result of both seasonal
and itinerant workers’ inflows. Seasonal workers are admitted directly from their countries of origin.
Itinerant workers are often illegal workers who have settled in Italy, but unable to legalize their status
and find a stable job follow the harvest picking tomatoes in Campania in the spring, grapes in Sicily in
the summer, olives in Puglia in the fall, and oranges in Calabria in winter (Migration News, 2010a).
Unable to secure stable-employment many of the migrants earn barely enough to maintain themselves
and live in substandard housing (European Parliament, 2010: 2, 8). Those in an illegal status often end up
living in the abandoned factories with no running water or in the makeshift camps in the woods. They
gather every morning on the main street of Rosarno town hoping to get picked for a day job. It is
reported that for a twelve hour work day that get paid around €25 (Donadio, 2010). However, NGOs
emphasize, that a number of them is unable to secure work everyday (European Parliament, 2010:7).
Given the weak role of labor unions in Southern Italy many migrants are unaware of their rights. Certain
human rights groups, such as Caritias and Médecins sans Frontieres, attempted to bring migrants basic
relief, but these groups too have had limited capacities to act, particularly in the context of economic
crisis and modest funding.
Human rights groups say that many African immigrants come to Italy with what appear to be legal offers
of work in the agricultural sector in the south, often by paying middlemen more than $10,000 for the
opportunity. When they arrive, the rights groups say, the immigrants often find that the agricultural
outfits refuse to honor their end of the bargain, instead compelling the migrants to work informally and
at substandard wages (Donadio, 2010: A7).
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Rome spokesperson the incidents such
as those from Rosarno attest to the exploitation of low-cost foreign labor, living in subhuman conditions,
without human rights (Donadio, 2010: A7).
The Italian right wing did not hesitate to interpret the incident of Rosarno for political gains, regardless
of the detrimental consequences such statements could have on social cohesion.
The center-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi interpreted Rosarno as the outcome of the the left wing
parties’ deliberate tolerance of “migrant invasion” in order to gain more votes. Mr. Berlusconi’s Interior
Minister, Mr. Maroni of the anti-immigrant Northern League Party, attributed the event to the inability
of the preceding center-left Prodi government to clamp down irregular migration and the “wrong kind
of tolerance” (Squires, 2010). Earlier Mr. Maroni defended his party proposal to cap the number of
immigrant students in public schools at thirty percent (OECD, 2011).
In stark contrast to the right and center-right interpretations, the left wing interpreted the clashes in
Rosarno as a consequence of intolerance and criminality. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano
emphasized the need to fight criminality and recognize the positive impact that migrants have made on
the Italian economy, seasonal migrants in particular.
Six weeks after the incident the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home
Affairs aurhorized a fact-finding mission to Rosarno and Rome. The Members stressed the lack of social
protection in favor of the migrant workers. Many of the workers, the Mission argued, lived in
characterized by inadequate sanitary standards were isolated from social support services, could not find
employment guaranteeing over 25 € a day and suffered from work interruptions, particularly when due
to the low price of oranges farmers decided to forego harvesting all of the fruit (LIBE, 2010).
The Economist (2010) noted that the deeper reason behind Rosarno’s clashes could have been the
inability of the region to maintain fruit and vegetable production in a globalized world, whereby China,
Brazil or even Spain could supply the produce at a much lower price than local industry. When foreign
prices drop down farmers may prefer to let the fruit rot in the fields, thereby contributing to the tensions
for the scarce jobs. This was the case in Rosarno. In the month when the tensions took place imported
citrus juice concentrate became 30 percent cheaper than the price Italian farmers could sell their
product for (Economist, 2009). In a globalizing world it would be unrealistic to expect that Italy would be
able to maintain large scale labor-intensive production for extended period of time. Hence, already
today all those who depend on naturally diminishing labor-intensive jobs, should be assisted with
upgrading their skills and moving up the occupational ladder to those activities that will warrant them
The outbreak of tensions in Rosarno precipitated an investigation into the causes of accident. The
reports tended to suggest that the key problem in Rosarno was the formation of a two-tiered society,
whereby migrants were stuck for a prolonged time in the unstable jobs and in substandard living
conditions. One policy which states can use to help migrants ameliorate their working and living
conditions is legalization – the act of granting migrants work/residence permits based on a set of
conditions, such as perceived labor and/or social integration in the country or humanitarian imperatives.
Legalizations as a starting point for migrant integration
Migrants have had positive impact on the Italian economy and have become a part and parcel of Italian
The estimated number of foreigners in Italy tripled between 1998 and 2010 from 1.5 to 4.6 million
(including 0.5 million in an irregular status) (OECD, 2012: 242). By 2010, foreigners constituted 7.5
percent of Italian resident population. Most were Romanians (969.000), Albanians (483 000), Moroccans,
(452 000), Chinese (ca.170 300) and Ukrainians (ca.154 000,) (OECD, 2012: 242, OECD 2011: 292;
Migration News, 2010b, c).
In the context of the crisis, in 2009, Italian economy shrank by 5 percent (Migration News, 2009a). Yet
Italy was not as hard hit by the crisis as other Southern European countries. Foreign workers in Italy
were better protected from the crisis than their counterparts in other Southern European countries.
They constituted 25 percent of labor in the low-skilled jobs and 15 percent in construction. By contrast in
Spain, they constituted 33 percent of labor in the low skilled jobs and 21 percent in construction
(Migration News, 2010b). As a result of smaller impact of the crisis on Italy and smaller concentration of
foreign workers in the crisis-affected sectors and jobs, the unemployment rate among foreigners in 2010
was only 4 percent higher than among the native workers (13 v. 9 percent), while in Spain it was the
double. As recession unfolded the employment rates of foreigners in Italy began to raise while among
Italians began to fall. By 2010 Italians had a 40 and foreigners 50 percent employment rate (Migration
In May 2009, the Bank of Italy concluded that “the increase in the supply of labor resulting from
immigration did not have a negative effect on the wages or job prospects of the native population.
Furthermore, it stated that migrants contributed 10 percent to Italy’s GDP (Migration News, 2010a). In a
number of jobs and areas, such as in Rosarno’s agricultural harvest, immigrants’ work was even
considered to have a positive effect on the economy given that local populations did not want to
perform these jobs under the conditions offered.
Forced repatriations have been difficult to implement and raised controversies in a democratic setting.
Contrary to the picture painted by the anti-immigrant groups, with the exception of large scale
humanitarian crises such as revolution in Tunisia in Spring 2011, most migrants enter Italy legally,
particularly on tourist visas. They become illegal when they do not repatriate upon expiry of their visas.
As far as irregular entries are concerned, most migrant to Italy have not been entering without
documents through the sea, but on false pretenses through the land and air official ports of entry. In
2008, the last year when Italy had a land border with a non-Schengen state, roughly half (48.9%) of all
irregular entries to Italy occurred through the airports, little over a quarter (28.4%) by land and little
below a quarter (22.6%) by the sea (Callia, 2012: 80). Following Switzerland and Slovenia’s admission to
Schengen, the 2010 data demonstrated that 69.9% entered by air and 30.1% by sea.
The Italian government toughened the legislation against irregular migrants over the years, and
particularly in 2009 through the so called “security package” criminalizing irregular status, facilitating
forced returns. However, given that expulsions proved only partially effective and raised controversies,
Italy continued to allow certain categories of migrants to repatriate voluntarily and facilitated labor
integration of some 230 000 domestic service workers through their legalization (Callia, 2012: 67).
Forced returns take two major forms: (1) rejections of migrants who have arrived at Italian border, and
(2) expulsions of those who reside in Italy. The numbers of migrants refused entry declined since the
onset of the crisis declined from 6405 in 2008 to 4212 in 2010. So did the number of migrants found to
be illegally present in Italy, from 68 175 in 2008 to 46 955 in 2010 (Callia, 2012: 85-6).
According to the newest available data, in 2010, 46 955 migrants were ordered to leave Italy having been
found there illegally. Ten percent left. The overall number of people ordered to leave Italy decreased
since the onset of the crisis in 2008, but the proportion of those who were expulsed was always around
10 percent (Callia, 2012: 88). The number of migrants returned home against their will has been much
smaller than the number of legalized, because there are considerable legal and administrative barriers to
the implementation of forced returns.
As far as legal constraints are concerned, before migrants could be returned the Italian authorities must
determine if they do not belong to any category protected against forced repatriation either by national
or international law. The art. 19 of Italian migration law (Consolidated Text ) prohibits expulsion of
minors, asylum seekers, refugees1, holders of a long residence permit, partners or spouses of Italian
nationals, pregnant women and those who gave birth within the past six months. The lack of readmission
agreements with the countries of origin, or the arrangements made within those accords also present a
considerable constraint on the implementation of forced returns (Pittau, 2009: 28). As far as practical
constraints are concerned, migrants are difficult to expatriate when their citizenship cannot be
determined (Pittau, 2009: 28). The smuggled migrants almost always arrive without passports and the
identification of their identity, particularly if they come from an ethnic group present in multiple
countries is extremely difficult. In 2010, migrants of an “unknown” origin constituted the second most
numerous group after Albanians among those refused entry (Callia, 2012: 87). Furthermore, expulsions
require costly internal checks and transportation as for security, and cost and public image reasons
expulsions are usually carried out on chartered rather commercial flights.
In the first half of 2009, 1471 persons were expelled in an organized fashion, mostly to Morocco, Algeria,
Tunisia Nigeria and Egypt. In 2008 and 2007 the numbers of expelled in chartered flights were 1199 and
1797 respectively (Pittau et al., 2009: 30). These chartered repatriations were possible due to the
financial and logistical support of European border management agency (Frontex), but most importantly
The Consolidated Text has transposed the Geneva Convention, especially the principle of non-refoulement which
acquiescence of the countries of origin (Pittau et al., 2009: 31). Joint return operations began to be
implemented more frequently starting in 2011 but still with caution given the considerable financial,
logistical and diplomatic cooperation of the countries of origin, destination and Frontex they require.2
Most countries of origin are very reluctant to readmit their citizens. A number of them have been
cajoled into readmission of their nationals through the agreements granting them preference in the
admissions of their migrants for temporary work. However, even when those countries agree to readmit
their nationals, they prefer to receive few migrants and over an extended period of time, rather than
many at once, as the host countries prefer. Organized expulsions tend to consist of the operations which
collect irregular migrants from a number of European countries and return them to a number of
countries of origin. Apart from the human rights considerations, the diplomatic, financial and logistical
efforts required do not make it possible to count on joint expulsions as a solution to Italy’s irregular
The 2008 Italo-Libyan agreement facilitated repatriation of African migrants from Italy. The agreement,
however, was suspended in 2011, given the likelihood that it could have undermined the right to claim
protection, in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Libya and Tunisia. In early 2012 the European
Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy violated the rights of Eritrean and Somali migrants by sending
them to Libya, where they had boarded the boats. The court found that the applicants had been exposed
to the risk of ill-treatment in Libya and of repatriation to Somalia or Eritrea. Among others, the judges
ruled unanimously that expulsion of migrants violated Article Four of Protocol Four of the European
Convention on Human Rights which prohibits collective expulsions as well as Article Three which
prohibits inhumane treatment. The ruling met with the welcome by the UNHCR and the Italian Council
Migrants who cannot be immediately repatriated because they require a hearing are transferred to the
“Identification and Expulsion Centers”.3 The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of
Torture, the human rights organizations and the media have criticized these centers for the conditions in
which migrants have been held, particularly in Lampedusa (Global Detention Project, 2012). In 2009, a
coalition of NGOs published an appeal highlighting the “alarming conditions” in the centre at Lampedusa
and the often prolonged detention of minors at CDAs prior to being transferred to “appropriate
reception structures” (AI Italia et al 2009 in Global Detention Project, 2012). The centers were reported
In 2010 Italy repatriated 2038 persons through the joint flights. The average cost of repatriation of one person
without taking into account the expenses associated with the detention in reception centers were estimated at
4 183 euro (Callia, 2012: 55).
Italy operates two types of detention facilities, I Centri di Accoglienza (CDA) ( “Welcome Centres”); and I Centri di
Identificazione ed Espulsione (CIE) (“Identification and Expulsion Centres”). Non-citizens who are detained for not
having appropriate authorization to be in Italy are initially detained at the CDAs. Once their status is determined,
they are either transferred to a deportation centre—CIE—or a non-secure centre for asylum seekers (Interior
Ministry “I Centri dell’immigrazione”) (GDP, 2009).
to be overcrowded, not guaranteeing minimum sanitary and safety conditions. In September 2011 a
revolt and a fire broke out in Lampedusa facility.
Counting from the date of the hearing, and in agreement with the 2008 EU return directive, migrants
may stay in the center for up to 180 days (up to six, extendible 30 day long periods) (Pittau et al. 2009:
28). When the 180 days are up migrants are usually given an order to leave the country within five days.
Given the increasing number of migrants able to claim temporary protection and stay in the centers for
180 days, the centers have been struggling to accommodate all the migrants and the communities
receiving them have been developing the idea that the state authorities cannot control migration flows.
At times this realization led to the outbreaks of violence against migrants, particularly if migrants were of
African or Moslem origin. At other times, detention centers attracted protests from the human rightsoriented groups who argued that such centers violate human rights.
The Italian government and the Italian Red Cross have repeatedly been criticized by human rights
organizations, the media, and the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) for
conditions at immigration detention facilities across the country, and in particular at the facility on
Lampedusa (HRW 2006; CPT 2007a in GDP, 2009)4. In 2006, a commission was established to assess
immigration detention facilities. The commission’s 2007 report made a number of recommendations
concerning physical environment and management procedures in the centers (WGAD 2009, p. 19; De
Mistura Commission 2007 in GDP 2009).
Migrants who expect that they will be sooner or later expelled (e.g. because their asylum claim will be
rejected or because the six months from giving birth will pass) may apply for an assisted voluntary
return. The high diplomatic, financial and administrative costs of forced returns resulted in the EU
Return Directive. The directive recommended exhausting the possibilities of voluntary return before
migrants are expelled from the territory of a Member State by force.
The outcomes of Italy’s voluntary returns have demonstrated that, even when offered a subsidy to
return home, some migrants prefer to stay in Italy.
Despite the high non-return rates among Africans, Italy’s voluntary return programs remained limited to
the victims of humanitarian emergencies, unsuccessful/withdrawn asylum seekers and migrant classified
by international law as vulnerable (e.g.; the victims of trafficking or unaccompanied minors). By contrast,
it excluded irregular migrants. Inaugurated in the context of the Yugoslav conflict, Italian voluntary
return program emphasized the assistance to the victims of humanitarian crises but ignored the needs of
those who have overstayed their permits – the major source of irregularity in Italy. A study by the
Italian Red Cross was the only private organization working inside detention centers while other rights-based
groups were frequently denied access to the facilities. But, incidents at centers, including deaths and fires, led the
government to broaden the number of organizations involved in the facilities beyond the Red Cross, which claimed
to be understaffed (Statewatch 2000 in GDP, 2009).
European Migration Network noted that the exclusion of irregular migrants from voluntary return
program has accounted for re-emigration of migrants returned home by force, because migrants
perceive involuntary returns as a failure (Pittau et al. 2009: 54).
Italy has implemented assisted voluntary returns since 1991, in response to the humanitarian crisis
posed by the conflict in Yugoslavia. As of early 2012, the program remained focused on migrants deemed
to be in vulnerable condition and rejected/withdrawn asylum seekers, but excluded those in an irregular
status, for instance, those who did not depart Italy following the expiry of their once legal work and
residence permits. The majority of irregular migrants in Italy belonged precisely to the category not
qualifying for voluntary return. However, even those who qualified for voluntary returns demonstrated
only a moderate interest in it given the weak incentives provided by the program (free one way ticket
home, and depending on the circumstances, a small reintegration grant) and a number of disincentives.
When deciding whether to return home or not, migrants carefully weigh the pros and cons of such a
decision, particularly if it is to affect not only them, but the spouses who joined them and their host
country-born or educated family members. Some thirty years since receiving the first flows of migrants
intending to settle, many of Italian migrants have by 2012 become fully integrated with the society,
reunified with their family members and gave birth to children who speak better Italian than their
parents’ mother tongue. One reason for the weak return rates could be migrants’ unwillingness to take a
decision that could affect their children future. However, migrants whose children approach the working
age and who have lost job in Italy may decide to return while leaving their children in Italy based on the
assumption that they would be able to find the job. One of the first and most powerful disincentives to
return home that Italian migrants face is the three year-long return ban. Unsure about their and their
families’ ability to reintegrate in the country of origin migrants would like to return home without giving
up the ability to return to Italy, if the economic, political or social realities in the countries of origin did
not bode well.
Between 1991 and 2009, 7778 returned through Italy’s voluntary return program: most to the relatively
economically, politically and socially stable Albania (38 %), former Yugoslavia (27%), and Romania (9 %)
(Pittau et al. 2009:19). By contrast, Africans either could not or did not want to avail themselves of
voluntary returns. Accounting for almost two percent of all returned, Nigerians demonstrated the
highest interest among Africans. The trend whereby migrants coming from the least economically,
politically and socially stable countries of origin demonstrate least interest in returning home has not
been unique to Italy.
Well designed legalizations offer the first step towards labor and social integration of those migrants
who cannot or do not want to return home.
Given the legal and administrative obstacles to forced repatriations and the lukewarm interest in
voluntary returns, Italian governments, regardless of political orientation, continued to legalize irregular
migrants present in the country.
Legalizations are procedures by which states award the illegal migrants legal status. There are many
forms of regularizations. Some are explicit and named as such, others are disguised as something else
(e.g. tolerated status), but like the explicit regularizations the implicit processes grant migrants legality.
Regularizations can be ad hoc (e.g. when the state authorities announce them) or ongoing (when
migrants meet certain requirements). They differ in the scope of rights afforded to migrants and in the
length of time migrants enjoy those rights. Between 1996 and 2008, when regularizations in Europe
were peaking, an estimated 5.5 to 6 million were regularized in the EU 27.
Italian immigration policy aimed to strike a difficult balance between demand for foreign workers and
migrant integration. Over the course of seven legalizations between 1980 and 2009 Italy legalized some
1.66 million migrants (Callia et al. 2010:64), i.e. over one-third of all residing in Italy as of 2011 and more
than in any other EU Member State. As of 2012, Italy led among the European states in the number of
legalized migrants since 1996. The other countries which legalized substantial numbers of migrants were
Spain (1.3 million), Greece (1.2 million). Italy, Spain and Greece accounted for 84 percent of all legalized
in the EU 27 (ICMPD, 2009: 2).
Over half of legalized (877 000) had worked in domestic services. Since 2005 Italian authorities have
favored the admissions of domestic services workers by granting them over half of work permits
authorized based on the assessment of labor market shortages. Given the administrative and financial
hurdles to formal admissions once in contact with their workers Italian employers would offer them
employment when their work permits expired, yet on informal bases. This, in turn, precipitated visa
overstays and return to domestic service work on tourist visas. Similar trend whereby migrant workers
fell in irregular situations as a result of the overly burdensome legal admissions concerned a number of
other sectors. However, domestic services lend themselves to irregular contracting, because employers
wish to get to know the worker before committing themselves to their hiring.
The frequent recourse to and relatively expansive character of Italian legalizations suggested that Italian
authorities recognized the rights of the migrants who were already residing in Italy and had a job to stay
and become part of the society (IDEA, 2009:6). Once legalized migrants in Italy could gain access to many
of the same social services as Italian citizens, reunify with their families and - if they had stayed in Italy
for at least ten years – apply for Italian citizenship. Employers, particularly in the most difficult jobs, did
not always want or could legalize their migrant workers, because they feared the workers would
abandon them for better jobs. However, legalizations were an important step in diminishing the
likelihood that migrants’ rights would be abused. Labor unions and humanitarian organizations in Italy
and around Europe (notably Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, UK, Ireland and Germany) have favored
legalizations. They have argued that legalizations reduce illegality, protect the most vulnerable members
of the society, improve migrants’ access to basic social rights, and integrate migrants (ICMPD, 2009: 7).
According to Niessen (2012: 39), the fundamental rights of irregular migrants, even those who entered
without the necessary documents or have become irregular, should be respected. Granting migrants
legal status is a basic form of respecting migrants’ fundamental rights. Legalizations enhance migrants’
social mobility. Legal status improves social coherence as legal migrants are less likely to be perceived
negatively than those in an irregular status. Legal status protects migrants against expulsion and
arbitrary treatment. It allows them to pay taxes and in exchange (often, but not always) gives them the
access to education, health and integration services. It gives them the right to judicial redress on
immigration decisions. It helps them to better learn the language, partake in the life of a society through
membership in various associations and social processes, as well as to accumulate the legal residence
necessary to apply for long-term residence permits and even citizenship. Once legal, migrants find it
easier to send money home, thereby contributing to the development of their home societies and wellbeing of families left behind. They may even create jobs for the other society members, both at home
and in the host country.
Overcoming stereotypes about migration: A prerequisite to fostering the settled
migrants’ social and labor mobility
Italy became an immigration country over a short period of time. However, it dragged its feet to
recognize itself as immigration, or even a multicultural land, like the United States or Sweden
respectively did (Chaloff, 2006: 153). The growing numbers of foreigners in the context of policymakers’
ambivalence about Italy’s relationship to them allowed the extreme-right groups to portray migration to
Italy as primarily irregular, primarily entering by sea, unable to find a job and therefore expellable.
This paper demonstrated that these charges have largely ignored the complexity of migration to Italy,
whereby irregular migrants are estimated to constitute only 10 percent of all foreigners residing in Italy.
With the exception of the humanitarian crisis in Tunisia in Spring 2011, most have entered legally,
through Italy’s land borders and airports rather than illegally through the sea. While tens of thousands
came as asylum seekers fleeing the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and in Northern Africa
over the period of Arab revolutions, hundreds of thousands came as migrant workers to satisfy labor
demand in the jobs that the authorities recognized as disregarded by Italian workers even in the context
of the rising unemployment. While most of those workers abided by admission rules, some, particularly
those admitted to year-round jobs, such as domestic services would overstay their permits because their
employers extended their employment periods, sometimes legally, sometimes not.
Romanians constitute the primary migrant group to Italy. As EU citizens, they have the right to reside in
the country as long as they can support themselves. The non-EU citizens can be in theory expelled, but in
practice forced repatriations are politically and administratively difficult and unfounded given that they
have weathered the crisis maintaining high employment rates. Despite the crisis-related foreign worker
admission curbs, Italy continues to admit new foreign workers from their countries of origin to the jobs
that Italians continue to shun. Expelling the settled, and in vast majority well integrated migrants and
admitting the new ones would be highly incoherent.
Italian governments have periodically legalized Italy’s irregular populations. The seeming political
consensus concerning the settled migrants’ right to adjust status attests to the existence of a common
ground to develop more comprehensive migrant integration policies allowing the migrants residing in
Italy social and labor mobility, so just like Italian citizens they could easily move out from the jobs and
areas characterized by substandard working and living conditions.
Despite the crisis in early 2012 the Polish government authorized its undocumented migrants to legalize
their status. The policy has been welcome by the Polish population despite 13 percent unemployment
rate. The Polish government and society have recognized that migrants have been contributing to the
Polish economy and are likely to continue to do so without endangering the ability of native populations
to secure employment. Among the recent legalizations outside of Italy also Belgium and Ireland
conducted their own in 2009. The Belgian legalization targeted persons deemed to have integrated well
in the Belgian society. The Irish legalization targeted economic migrants who have inadvertently lost
their legal status (Kraler, 2011: 4). Due to their politically-contested nature, European countries often
masked legalizations under other procedures. Those “de facto” legalizations have often been dictated by
humanitarian considerations, and have been more prevalent in Northern Europe given Northern
European countries’ reluctance to demonstrate they are adjusting migrants’ status post facto. They
included granting migrants the tolerated stay status to allow them to stay with their families, due to their
statelessness, due to minor age or being a victim of human trafficking (EMN, 2010). If one extends the
definition of legalization to the de facto regularizations, all but a few EU countries (e.g. Latvia, Bulgaria)
have regularized migrants in one way or another.
Despite their shortcomings (e.g. the potential to attract new irregular migrants), well-designed and
implemented legalizations reduce irregular employment, grant migrants rights (e.g. to family
reunification, legal work, basic state services), help to prevent anti-immigrant sentiments as they send a
clear message to the native populations that migrants have earned their status through social and
economic integration in that society. What remains to be carefully decided each time legalization is
authorized is how such process should be implemented to encourage the largest possible participation,
to minimize its shortcomings, and to ensure that having met certain conditions legalized migrants could
apply for permanent residency, as opposed to falling back into the illegal status.
Baldwon Edwards, M., Kraler, A (2009), “REGINE. Regularizations in Europe”.
Chaloff, J. (2006), “Innovating in the Supply of Services to meet the Needs of Immigrants in Italy”, In:
OECD (2006), From Immigration to Integration. Paris: OECD, http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-AssetManagement/oecd/social-issues-migration-health/from-immigration-to-integration/innovating-in-thesupply-of-services-to-meet-the-needs-of-immigrants-in-italy_9789264028968-6-en
Dolente, F., Vietllo, M. (2010), “ The events at Rosarno: reasons and responses”, La Rivista delle Politiche
Sociali. April-June, 2010.
Donadio, R. (2010) ,Race Riots Grip Italian Town and Mafia is Suspected“ New York Times, 11 January,
ECHR (2012), “Case of hirsi jamaa and others v. Italy. Application no. 27765/09”. European Court of
Human Rights. Strassbourg.
Economist (2010), “Southern misery. An ugly race riot reflects social tensions and economic problems in
the south.” January 14, 2010, http://www.economist.com/node/15271071?story_id=15271071
EMN (2010), “The different national practices concerning granting of non-EU harmonized protection
Hooper, J. (2010), “Racial violence continues in Italy as four migrant workers wounded in shootings”. The
Guardian, January 9, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/08/standoff-italy-four-africanswounded
ICMPD (2009), “Regularisations in Europe. Study on practices in the area of regularization of illegally
staying third-country nationals in the Member States of the European Union. Policy Brief”. Vienna:
Kraler, A. (2011), “Regularization of Irregular Migrants in the European Union”. National EMN conference
“Pathways out of irregularity”, Oslo, 10 October, 2011.
LIBE (2010), “Fact-finding mission Rosarno and Rome”. Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home
Longo, M (2011), “Italian policy towards legal economic migration: aims, limits and failures”. Migration
Studies Unit Working Paper no. 2011/02. LSE: London.
Macri, C. (2010), “Immigrants riot at Rosarno”, Corriere della Sera”, January, 8, 2010,
Meichry, S (2010), “Clashes with African Migrants Rattle Italy”. Wall Street Journal, 12 January, 2010.
New York Times (2009), “Migrants stage protest on Italian island”, New York Times. 25 January, 2009.
Niessen, J. (2012), “International Migration, Human Development and Integrating Societies”. Brussels:
OECD (2012), International Migration Outlook 2012. Paris: OECD,
OECD (2011), International Migration Outlook 2011. Paris: OECD, http://www.keepeek.com/DigitalAsset-Management/oecd/social-issues-migration-health/international-migration-outlook2011_migr_outlook-2011-en
OECD (2002), Tendances des migrations internationales 2002, Paris : OECD.
Pittau, F., Ricci, A., Urso, G. (2009), “Programmes and strategies in Italy fostering assisted return and reintegration in third countries”. European Migration Network.
Reyneri, E. (2001), “Migrants’ involvement in irregular employment in the Medditerranean Countries of
the European Union”. Geneva: International Labor Organization.
Saviano, R. (2010), “Italy’s African Heroes”, New York Times, 25 January, 2010.
Squires, N. (2010), “Police quell immigrant riots in Italy », The Telegraph, January, 9, 2010,
WHAT IS HAPPENING NEXT?
Second generations of migrants in Europe and their transition to the labor
market: a challenge for changing societies
Investigating the attainments of second-generation migrants is a key task for policy-makers of the EU, as
it helps assess integration policies of member states for third-country nationals and their inclusion into
society. Indeed, it is only with second generations and their transition to adulthood that a country can
fully understand the outcomes - successes or failures - of its integration model. Understanding the
phenomenon and its implications and promoting an inclusive policy approach looks even more crucial as
a new second generation is growing up in recent immigration countries. Moreover, this issue is becoming
pivotal as Europe is facing a deep economic and financial crisis which is also resulting in a crisis of its
social model and in rising inequalities, including those affecting migrants.
Introduction: The challenge of integrating second-generation migrants
Measuring, promoting and monitoring the integration of migrants into their host society is increasingly
perceived as an important task that national and European institutions must undertake to achieve a
good level of social cohesion. Less attention, though, is still generally paid to the generations that follow.
Yet their inclusion process can be even more complex and sometimes problematic than for their parents,
especially in terms of identity and life expectations. Indeed, even a recent OECD report sets the
outcomes of second generations as a benchmark for migrants integration, going as far as affirming that
“achieving good outcomes for the offspring of low-educated immigrants represents the single most
important integration challenge facing OECD countries” (OECD, 2012). A challenge, it should be added,
that requires constant attention and monitoring, as problems can emerge (or worsen) even in the third
or fourth generation, if nothing or too little is done to prevent them. Reversing the issue, the growing
presence of offspring of migrants should be seen as an asset for our countries, as it provides a bridge to
migrant cultures and brings an added value of a multiple, dynamic kind of identity, which can be
enriching for societies as a whole.
A “second generation of migrants” is now stably present in most Western European countries and
growing up in Mediterranean ones. Assessing their degree of inclusion is, of course, a multi-layer, timedynamic process, and it can be considered in terms of educational attainment, participation in political
and civil life, number of mixed marriages and so on. This paper will focus on the transition to the labor
market, as work not only marks the passage to adulthood, but it also plays a crucial role both in terms of
self-satisfaction and of creating a sense of belonging to society. Indeed, from this point of view second
generations might prove to be a particularly vulnerable group. With important exceptions, and
regardless of their origin, they might experience higher school dropout rates than their peers and be
pushed into lower-level schools, as well as end up more frequently than their peers in low-skilled jobs,
with little social protection, lower earnings and more frequent unemployment spells. Also, another
obstacle they might encounter on their way to working life is that of discrimination by the employer, on
the basis of their somatic features, origins, sometimes even name or address. All these factors might
generate social exclusion and segregation, ultimately causing a sense of alienation and rebellion.
Essentially, there are two main ways of assessing the inclusion of second generations in their society:
comparing their situation to that of their parents, or to that of their peers. If in terms of the first a certain
degree of upwards mobility is often registered, the real challenge is posed by the latter, as children born
and raised in our societies should face the same opportunities as their peers of their same age, while in
reality it rarely occurs. Yet, all citizens should have the right to empowerment, to be able to freely
choose the path to personal fulfillment. If equality of opportunities represents a lighthouse for a
progressive approach, then particular effort should be aimed at positively promoting it for the most
vulnerable groups and actively fighting all forms of discrimination.
After examining the theoretical background underlying the research on second-generation, the common
findings of recent selected studies will be summarized, to see if it is possible to answer the following
questions: what is the current situation across Europe? Is Europe doing enough to guarantee full social
inclusion of second generations? Or are European second generations experiencing downward
assimilation instead? Investigating these questions is crucial as they help European policy-makers assess
if and to what extent there is progress towards a common space of social cohesion, ensuring equal
opportunities for all, or if, instead, we are creating contrasts within our very societies, especially in a
period of economic downturn. To this end, some policy implications in addressing second generations
and their inclusion process will be discussed.
Evidences from the literature on second generations and the labor market
The theory first addressed the life attainments of second generations inthe eldest immigration countries
(especially the United States and, to some extent, the traditional European immigration countries),
mainly from the 1990s on. A number of theories have been elaborated throughout the years to
investigate the possible integration patterns for second generations. In particular, the literature has long
compared the two major waves of labor migration to the United States (end of XIXth century-beginning
of XXth and from 1965 on) in terms of outcomes for the second generation. Indeed, their integration was
commonly considered by the classic assimilation theory as a linear process, under the hypothesis that
the second generation would fare better than the first one in terms of life attainments and social status,
that the third would have been better than the second and so on. It must be noted that this
interpretation was strongly influenced by the structure of the market at that time, a fordist economy
where an upward mobility and the transition “from peddler to plumber to professional”, was possible in
a few generations time. The second major wave, instead, occurred in a post-fordist economy, in which it
became much harder for offspring of migrants to climb the social ladder as the structure of the economy
tended more toward a “hourglass” shape, with a gap between low-skilled jobs – lower social status – and
high-skilled ones, that could not be gradually filled anymore because of the absence of intermediate
steps. As underlined by Portes, the prolonged permanence in the lower social stratum, even for the
following generations, leads to risks of downward assimilation (Portes, 1995), entailing increasing
discrimination and isolation in urban ghettos, generating episodes of violence and rebellion against the
country of birth. Nevertheless, this does not seem to be the only possible outcome either: a large
number of studies in the United States have showed that communities with strong parental human
capital and tight family bonds do play a positive role in the personal attainment of the second
generation. Building on these premises, the theory then evolved towards the assumption that there can
be more than one outcome of integration, depending on a set of factors (ethnicity, labor market, family
education, family bonds, community bonds, educational attainment etc.). This ultimately led to the
theory of segmented assimilation (Rumbaut, Portes, 2001, Zhou, 1997), which states that integration is a
neither linear nor homogeneous process (Crul, Vermeulen, 2003). In fact, the theory proposes three
main outcomes: the first one is an upward assimilation, i.e. socioeconomic advancement, assimilation of
the culture of the receiving society and gradual abandonment of identification with the ethnicity of
origin. The second outcome is that of downward assimilation,5 that indicates a lack of social mobility and
the permanence in a condition of exclusion and segregation, eventually leading to rebellion and
violence. The third outcome is that of selective assimilation, in which some ethnic characteristics are
preserved, but re-elaborated and coupled with those of the country of birth. Therefore, this theory
suggests that the question is not “whether or not” a person will be integrated, but rather “to what
segment” of society this integration will happen. Segmented assimilation thus provides a good,
descriptive explanation for the compresence of different outcomes at a given time within the same
country and, in some cases, even within the same community, and it highlights the possible paths to
social exclusion. A progressive approach to integration should be part of a broader social mobility
promotion policy, concentrating its constant efforts on minimizing the risks of downward assimilation
and bearing in mind that the danger is always round the corner.
With the start of comparative research on second generations across Europe (see below), a recent,
significant European contribution has been made to segmented assimilation theory. The latter already
stressed the importance of context in the integration outcome, but transposing it to our diverse
continent made this factor far more decisive. Responding to this, Crul and Schneider propose a
comparative context theory, asserting that the reason for second generations with the same origins
It is important to note that it is indeed a case of assimilation, and not a refusal of it: disappointment and rebellion
towards the “host” society only comes after a rupture with what was first perceived as the person’s own culture
(Ambrosini, 2003). The famous case of the riots in the Parisian banlieues is typically explained by this pattern.
having different outcomes in different countries lies by large in the difference in educational and
institutional arrangements in place in each country (Crul and Schneider, 2010).6 This contribution
reverses the so far dominant academic and policy perspective, stating that “the question is not why
individuals fail to participate, but why institutions fail to be inclusive”. It thus appears as particularly
relevant, as it might open a new course not only in migration studies but, if promptly transposed into
policy-making, it can lead to a significant shift in the current approach to integration. Furthermore, from
a longitudinal point of view, a stream of studies builds on the intergenerational mobility theory (Becker
and Tomes, 1979, 1986), providing evidence of a possible worsening of the situation across generations
in terms of employment and earnings mobility: in particular, the work of Borjas (Borjas, 1992) underlines
a possible downward process of earnings of migrants offspring in comparison to those of their peers
across three generations, after controlling for all possible factors. To explain this regression, Borjas
proposes the “ethnic capital” factor, that is, the human capital formed by family attitudes, culture,
traditions. Despite the theory offers a precious contribution in providing evidence of actual outcomes in
dynamic terms, and of the concrete risk of worsening outcomes across generations, the fact of isolating
the main factor as an “ethnic” one can be a dangerous assumption, as it reinforces stereotypes and the
feeling that the blame of unsuccessful integration should be entirely put on second generations and their
families, which the comparative context theory is disproving. The above mentioned theories all focus on
the supply-side of labor market. As for the demand-side, one of the main factors that may hinder
personal achievement of second generations is discrimination. As the discrimination theory further
elaborates, this can occur in the hiring phase, being direct (the employer chooses not to hire a person
because of their somatic features, nationality or even name and address7) or indirect (restrictive
employment laws and regulations), but it can also occur later, with career progression. It will be further
discussed below how big role discrimination seems to play in explaining the vulnerability of second
generations in the labor market.
Is the integration of second generations taking place in Europe?
When addressing concrete outcomes across Europe, it must first be said that dealing with such a broad
variety of people, with different origins, age, attitudes and, especially, living in countries with different
approaches to integration is never easy. Indeed, strong differences emerge between countries, as each
one has its own migration history, with different migrant waves, ethnic compositions and integration
models, which inevitably affect their respective second generation in a different way. Therefore,
comparing European countries under this point of view is particularly difficult.
The authors build upon the TIES project (2012), surveying youth with Turkish, Moroccan and former-Yugoslavian
origins in 15 cities across 8 European countries.
The latter is the typical case in Paris for second generations residing in one of the banlieues (Roulleau-Berger,
Given these premises, it is now important to have a closer look at the European context. Several
European countries (mostly North-Western and, more recently, Southern ones) are net immigration
countries. In the first group, a third and fourth generation already exist, while in the latter (Southern
countries) second generations are only recently starting to confront themselves with adulthood and
access to the labor market. According to Eurostat, approximately 5 million citizens in working age (from
25 to 54) across Europe fall under the definition of “second generation” (not to count those under 25,
part of whom already entered the labor market), a number that will consistently increase in the
upcoming years. Their share of the total population varies considerably from country to country, as well
as from region to region. Addressing the issue of the attainments of European second generations is not
only crucial in general to better evaluate the outcomes of integration and inclusion policies, but it is
especially important because their transition to adult and productive life corresponds to a relatively
declining phase for Europe. In particular, the still ongoing economic and financial crisis and the labor
market structures, especially in Southern European countries, can make it harder for second generations
to experience social mobility. Moreover, the “hourglass” shape of our economies is getting steeper
throughout the years, as the revenue gap between the richest and the poorest is widening and jobs tend
to become less and less permanent when not precarious, with worsening opportunities for youth as a
whole. This warning must be added to the generally pessimistic perception ‒ often emphasized by the
media ‒ of the performance of second generations in the labor market, which seems to predict lower
attainment for them than their peers and, in some cases, even lower, in relative terms, than their
parents. Even so, a closer look to reality reveals a large number of results, which seems to prove that
segmented assimilation also applies to Europe, as it explains the contemporary presence of negative and
positive outcomes even within the same country. According to Eurostat, in 2008 second generations in
Europe were generally better educated than their parents and in most cases even better than their
peers, but had higher school drop-out rates than them and sometimes even higher than their parents. As
for labor market participation, their activity rate proved to be identical to that of their peers on average
(with important country differences). The actual concern Eurostat rises is related to the unemployment
rate, 4 points higher than their peers, though one point lower than that of their parents. Also, their
employment rate was 3 percentage points lower than their peers, though 6 points higher than their
parents, with consistent differences from one country to another (in some countries the data depict a
situation of difficulty in finding a job and a lower female employment rate). The data are unfortunately
pre-crisis, but it will be crucial to have a clear view of how the situation has evolved after its outburst,
once the data is available.
However, despite the overall situation would not appear too negative from a first glance, a closer look
reveals that some groups can be particularly disadvantaged. Indeed, Eurostat only takes into account
country of origin, country of birth and gender as variables, while an in-depth analysis shows further
differentiation, even within the same country. Moreover, the raw data presented above say nothing
about the correspondence between the educational degree and the kind of job these youth find, nor
about the possible wage gap as compared to people of the same age cohort, nor about the frequency
and duration of unemployment spells. When assessing the performance of a country in terms of
integration policies, one useful tool is usually represented by the Mipex index, which assesses a
complete set of national policies on different areas related to the integration of migrants and ranks
countries according to the level of inclusion provided by the overall policy framework. One would then
expect to find more comprehensive data and insights on the subject through this index. Yet, the way it is
designed8 makes it somewhat inadequate to properly assess the outcomes of second generations. In
fact, it only relates to them in the education policy area, the citizenship regime and, partly, in the antidiscrimination policies, while the labor market mobility area is especially designed for third-country
nationals. This makes the index not entirely viable for assessing the attainments of second generations in
the labor market. To make a concrete example, Sweden still ranks first in the Mipex classification, and
has long been perceived as the best performing country in terms of migrant integration. Nevertheless, as
Schierup and Ålund point out, two decades of neoliberal policies progressively eroding the social
compromise and its inclusiveness achieved between the 1970s and the 1980s (Schierup and Ålund,
2011), have resulted in growing evidence of downward assimilation stories, increasing employment and
wage gaps for second generations as compared to their peers, mounting urban segregation and more
frequent discrimination in the labor market (see also Tasiran and Tezic, 2007; Nordin and Rooth, 2009).
Indeed, being only based on legal frameworks in place, the Mipex doesn’t seize major qualitative
changes that occur in reality, in particular in the context of second generations, a fact which needs to be
taken into account when assessing the performance of single countries on the issue. Aside from that, a
growing number of studies (yet still insufficient or partial to depict a comprehensive overview of the
situation across the continent)9 are being carried out in Europe to assess the transition of second
generations to the labor market, using different methodology. Their common findings provide a useful
picture of bad and good practices across the continent, which is fundamental in the design of a
comprehensive and inclusive integration policy. The first insight provided by the majority of these
studies is that all of the aforementioned factors (ethnicity, structure of the labor market, family
education, family bonds, community bonds, educational attainment etc.) have a powerful influence on
the attainments of second generations in the labor market. But even so, a complex (as opposed to linear)
combination of them generally applies. As for the different policy performances of European countries, it
seems to emerge that there is no best practice across the continent, while each country has its own
For further details, see http://www.mipex.eu/methodology.
I.e., on a comparative perspective, aside from the mentioned TIES project, Bisin et al., 2011, who focus on ethnic
identity and labor market outcomes in Europe, Algan et al , 2010, who compare second generations to their
parents in France, Germany and the United Kingdom; the EFFNATIS project (2001) which gathers several national
European institutes on a survey to assess effectiveness of national integration settings in a comparative European
perspective; Crul and Schneider, 2009, who compare children of Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands and
Germany to assess the impact of the differences in single aspects of education policies in determining the economic
integration outcome; Heath et al., 2008, who review the existing research on second generations and the labor
market in ten European countries. On a national basis, i.e. Nordin and Rooth, 2009, Tasiran and Tezic, 2007 on
Sweden; Lefranc, 2010, Silberman et al., 2007, on France; Demireva and Kesler, 2011, Platt, 2005 on the United
Kingdom; Kogan, 2006 on Germany.
weaknesses and strengths, according to its migration history and institutional settings. This has also been
confirmed by OECD in its 2012 report.
Going into detail, education plays a crucial role in predicting the future outcomes of these children.
Therefore, institutional settings in the education area have a strong effect on the performance of a
country in terms of integration and social mobility. In this respect, evidence shows that in France (and, to
a lesser extent, Belgium and the Netherlands) second generations from more disadvantaged groups end
up more often in higher education tracks than in Germany and Austria, whereas here they frequently
end up in vocational tracks (i.e. Crul, 2007, Liebig, 2007, Heath et al., 2008). Looking more closely to the
respective education systems, this proves to be the result of a multiplicity of arrangements. The first is
an earlier school start (age 2 in France compared to age 6 in Germany), which allows children to have an
earlier and longer contact with the local language, which is frequently not spoken at home. Another one
is the number of face-to-face contact hours with teachers (in Germany schools only have half-day
enrollment). What is more, later school tracking (at age 15 in France as opposed to age 10 in Germany)
allows students to have more time to overcome their possible disadvantaged starting position. To this
must be added, as research has proven, that the socioeconomic status of the parents and their
respective educational attainment also plays a role in the educational outcome of their children. For
instance, in Germany, full-day enrollment is substituted by the assignment of more homework. Yet,
migrant parents often do not master the language or have sufficient education to properly assist their
children at home, and this may contribute to their lagging behind (Crul, 2007). Building from these
insights, France would seem to have developed a successfully inclusive education system. Yet, evidence
shows that in this country the drop-out rates of second generations before obtaining a secondary-school
diploma are twice as high as in Germany, which often make them exit school without any preparation to
enter the labor market.
Moving on, the existence of effective apprenticeship systems also plays a positive role, as it endows
children with skills that favor a smooth transition to the labor market. In this respect, Germany proves to
have a relatively good system, as part of the children who enter it are then hired in the same company
where they apprenticed and those who do not will still have earned a few years of working experience,
which will prove helpful in their future job search. In contrast, in France, which relies much less on
apprenticeships, second generations are essentially left to face the labor market on their own. Here
again, though, it must be added that the German system also has its weaknesses. Apart from the
problem of educational segregation, there is also growing evidence of drop-outs by second generations
from the dual track and of the fact that they get worse-quality apprenticeships compared to their peers,
which makes them enter the labor market without any qualifications or with very poor ones (Crul, 2007;
Liebig, 2007). Another major factor to be considered in the transition of second generations to the labor
market is discrimination, which is highlighted especially by the French and Swedish literature (Nordin and
Rooth, 2009, Tasiran and Tezic, 2007, Schierup and Ålund, 2011; Lefranc, 2010, Silberman et al., 2007,
Silberman and Fournier, 2008). Be it on skin color, somatic features, names or even addresses, actual
discrimination and even the perception of future one has a powerfully negative role in the generally poor
employment performance of second generations of particular ethnic groups. Fighting discrimination
therefore constitutes a major challenge for policy-makers.
Addressing the lack of integration of second generations: policy recommendations
As it has been showed in the previous paragraph, comparing the performance of second generations in
their transition to the labor market in Europe shows, even at a first glance, how the national institutional
context indeed matters in predicting much of it. In particular, two major policy areas have great effect:
education and labor market structure. As for the first, earlier start in the school career, as well as full-day
enrollment as opposed to half-day, and later tracking prove to have a positive effect in educational
attainment. Yet, the high school drop-out rates of the French system suggest that this combination still
needs some adjustments to improve the poor performance of most children of migrants. As for the
latter, the state should intervene to smoothen rigidities and remove entrance barriers in some sectors.
Also, the recourse to apprenticeships or other forms of preparation to work could be taken into
consideration by the countries in which the focus is rather on higher education. Moreover, it must be
said that investing in vocational training and providing youth with working skills could also help mitigate
the negative effects of discrimination. Another crucial intervention is the establishment of a
comprehensive legal framework against discriminations themselves. To this end, the European Union
actively worked in promoting strong antidiscrimination legislation across the continent (see, in particular,
EC directive 43/2000, calling for the establishment of special agencies for anti-discrimination and racism
in all member States). Yet, it has not been implemented by all member states the same way and it has
not yielded equivalent results everywhere. Indeed, antidiscrimination needs to be strongly enforced by
effective sanctioning, which is not always the case. Furthermore, potential victims do not always fully
know their rights, so a clearer information framework should also accompany these policies. Also, since a
large amount of the literature on the issue indicates the generally poor social networks of second
generations (at least compared to their peers) as a factor of bigger employment gaps and unemployment
spells, another measure to smoothen the entrance in the labor market concerns the provision of more
complete information on employment opportunities. This might help at least partially overcome that
factor. Furthermore, since research has largely proven the socioeconomic background of the parents to
have significant effect on the employment outcomes of second generations, also welfare provisions of
income support and bonuses (i.e. on children tuition fees) could have a positive impact.
When designing policies, it is also important to note that both national and local level count, especially
for countries with strong regional autonomies.
Overall, the current institutional settings and approaches to integration in Europe seem to depict a late
adaption process to the major societal change represented by stable migration and, ultimately, the
growing presence of migrants offspring. It is an issue that would require a comprehensive, long-term
strategy, and yet many countries do not have such a vision. What is more, there is still no sharing of
knowledge and experience among countries at the EU level, as if it was perceived as better for each
country to maintain its particular set of policies without comparing it to the others, to see if some
particular aspects of the different approaches can be combined and incorporated to yield a better policy
framework. However, evidence of the situation in Europe suggests that countries could learn a lot from
one another (Crul, Schneider, 2009). What is more, the insights provided by the outcomes in old
immigration countries can not only suggest possible respective revisions and adjustments, but also
constitute useful benchmarks for countries which are only recently experiencing a growth of a second
generation. It should be time for promoting and fostering a European-wide political debate about
integration strategies for second generations. In particular, given the persisting economic crisis and the
vulnerabilities which emerged in the last years, it would be of the utmost importance to rethink
strategically and urgently the overall policy framework concerning second generations, if we want to
avoid that the deepening inequalities and the increasing situations of unease, which are likely to
particularly hit second generations, ultimately lead to generalized phenomena of inward-looking
identitarian closure, rejection of own birth country and rebellion, as it already happened in some of the
Second generations will increase consistently in the upcoming years. Failure to think of them as a
resource and, thus, failure to include them successfully in our societies, will only result in an aggravation
of these phenomena, undermining social cohesion and decreasing the chances of social mobility, which
should instead constitute some of the fundamental features of European societies.
Analyzing the attainments of second generations across Europe is a very complex, albeit fundamental
issue, as it tells a lot about the future evolution of our societies and the outcomes of our migration
integration policies. Their presence constitutes an enrichment for a country, and should be valued as
such. However, it requires constant and comprehensive attention by researchers as well as policymakers, on a long-term basis, for problems can emerge or worsen even in the third or fourth generation.
The increasing number of European studies in the field of second generations depict a multifaceted
reality, showing how a variety of integration patterns can be present at the same time in the same
country, and that between success stories and situations of exclusion there is a wide array of other
outcomes. As for policy-makers, it is crucial for them to adopt a comprehensive inclusion policy, ensuring
the highest possible level of equality and social cohesion and trying to limit the risks of downward
assimilation. In this regard, countries can learn a lot from one another and should wait no more in doing
so. Moreover, it is vital to continuously monitor how the situation is evolving, especially given the
current economic downturn and the growing precariousness of jobs. To this end, it is also essential to
address this delicate issue in the view of growth, social mobility and job opportunities, with particular
regard to youth employment, because investing in second generations and youth in general is key to
maintaining the current level of well-being social cohesion within European societies.
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