The CrossMigration work package on migration policy indicators collects and analyses available indicators on the widest range of migration policies (e.g., admission policies, integration policies, citizenship acquisition policies, etc.). It identifies the key indicators that are the most conceptually, statistically and empirically relevant for measuring migration policies. It updates this selection of indicators to EU28 and other European countries.
Over the last twenty years, researchers have increasingly focused on the comparison of migration policies – mainly at the national level. From these undertakings, a number of indicators have been developed to capture and synthetically provide measurable information on migration policies, ranging from the level of restrictiveness of provisions to, for example, the extent of equal treatment between migrants and non-migrants.
Indicators are particularly useful in the analysis of policy outputs, which refer to the adoption of a law/policy by government entities on topics related to migration.
Two are the main methodological approaches used to conceptualize output indicators. Part of the literature in this area focuses on the analysis of policy changes occurred in a given country over time. On the other hand, researchers might conceptualize indicators that provide an overall assessment of migration policies and allow for cross-country and over-time comparisons.
From indicators, researchers have often aggregated information into indexes, in order to provide a summary score that enables readers to grasp complex information very quickly.
Indicators and indexes have been proliferating, offering a wide range of variation in terms of not only temporal and geographical scope, but also thematic coverage. The proliferation of projects on indicators has disproportionately concentrated in a few areas of migration policy research, such as admission policies and citizenship acquisition policies and, to a lesser extent, integration policies. By contrast, other areas, such as governance, expulsion and return, and emigration and diaspora policies have been largely overlooked.
In contrast with other policy areas, the topic of governance has not been so covered by indexes and indicators. The definition of governance is two-fold. On one hand, with the term “governance” we encompasses the “manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources” (World Bank, 199:66), on the other we identify “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented)” (United Nations, 2009:1).
The decision-making process ruling migration issues has been conceptualized by two major indexes:
Although relatively new and fragmented, indicators on admission policies are numerous. Overall, they cover the 4 main admission channels, i.e., labour migration, family reunification, international protection and international education, with a bias of over-representation for the first two as compared to the last ones. Among the most recognized and comprehensive indexes and indicators in the area of admission policies, we can find:
More sectorial indexes, which cover specific channels, include:
Indicators that capture different models and dimensions of integration are numerous. This mirrors the centrality of integration in the academic debate that spreads around the topic of migration.
The index that lays claim to being “the most comprehensive, reliable and used tool to compare what governments are doing to promote the integration of migrants” is the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) and its counterpart for international protection beneficiaries, the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM).
Other relevant indexes which tackle the issue from a sectorial perspective are the following:
Labour market mobility refers to inclusion of migrants in the labour market of the country of destination. Employment is a key path to a secure income, self-sufficiency and, in some cases, eligibility for long-term residence and citizenship. It allows migrants to contribute to the economy and add to the prosperity of the receiving society with their skills and qualifications.
Labour market mobility addresses whether legally resident migrants have comparable workers’ rights and opportunities like nationals to access jobs and improve their skills. Topics included under policies for labour market integration are whether or not legal migrants can access and change jobs in all sectors like nationals, can improve their skills and qualifications like nationals, and have the same work and social security rights like nationals.
Chart 1. Policies on inclusion in the labour market
A recent comparative analysis conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration shows that the great majority of countries – 34 out of 39 – still fails to provide third-country nationals (TCNs) with immediate access to the labour market. Only South European countries (Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain) grant foreign residents unrestricted access to employment.
The majority of countries provide public employment services to TCNs under the same conditions as to nationals: in 23 out of 39 countries, long-term, temporary and family-related foreign residents are granted equal access to such services.
In addition, some countries (13/39) deploy specific measures to increase migrants’ access to the labor market, including targeted training initiatives (e.g. bridging courses and job-specific language training), and programmes to encourage the hiring of TCNs (e.g. employer incentives, work placements, public sector commitments).
Finally, it is worth noting that only Greece and Portugal provide all three conditions for labor market integration – immediate access to the labour market, access to public employment services and access to targeted trainings and programmes. In contrast, in 11 countries none of the three conditions are met.
Education refers to inclusion of migrants in the education system of the country of destination, i.e. access to education and trainings. Education endows children and migrants with a perspective for personal development, social mobility, better employment prospects. It is key to social inclusion and better integration outcomes.
Education addresses whether have equal access to all levels of education, legally resident migrants and their children are encouraged to achieve and develop in school like nationals, and are entitled to have their specific needs addressed in school. Furthermore, it includes policies (e.g., trainings for teachers) to prepare schools and teachers for diversity.
Chart 1. Policies on inclusion in the educational system
A recent comparative analysis, conducted within the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration, evaluated the policies facilitating migrants’ access to the education across 39 countries based on four indicators – equal access to compulsory education, increasing access to higher education, combating segregation and inclusion in the teaching workforce. Just over half of the countries included in the analysis (24/39) have introduced legislation explicitly granting migrants of all categories with access to compulsory education, equal to the one enjoyed by nationals.
The conditions for access to education exacerbate the more advanced the level of study is: just eleven countries have established targeted measures aiming to increase migrants’ inclusion into higher education.
After entering the educational system, migrants may still be vulnerable to exclusion in the majority of countries, as only seven out of the 39 states have introduced measures to combat segregation and encourage the integration of foreign pupils. Similarly, few countries (7/39) have established measures to help bring migrants into the teaching force.
Overall, the majority of countries fail to introduce measures to safeguard migrants’ education. Eleven countries, in fact, have implemented none of the four measures, and there is not a single country that has introduced all four.
Political participation refers to the opportunities that legally resident migrants have to participate in the political life of the country of destination (e.g., like nationals or EU migrants). This refers to rights to vote and stand as candidates in political elections, and join and form political parties and associations. Furthermore, political participation makes reference to whether there are initiatives and policies (e.g., campaigns and funds) to encourage migrants and their associations to participate in political life.
Chart 1. Policies on political participation
The recent comparative analysis conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration shows that serious limitations to political participation of third-country nationals (TCNs) persist. Only eight out of 38 countries grant TCNs with equal rights to vote at local or national elections without requirements or limitations.
Even though migrants’ right to vote is limited, there are no barriers to their participation in the activities of political parties in half of the countries analysed (20/38). TCNs’ political participation is additionally encouraged through the provision of public funding, as well as support for immigrant organisations in half of the countries (19/38). In many cases, both funding and other types of support are provided.
With the exception of the Netherlands, the countries which do not impose restrictions on migrants’ right to vote also grant equal access to membership in political parties and provide support to immigrant organisations. In addition, 13 countries implement none of the three polices fostering migrants’ political participation – an unrestricted right to vote, ability to participate in political parties, and support for migrant organisations.
For migrants, rapid family reunion and a stable family life are fundamental preconditions to the rebuilding of their lives. Family Reunion refers to the policies and conditions (e.g., economic requirements) that allow migrants to be entitled to bring their family members to the country of destination. Family members normally include spouse and dependent relatives and possibly other family members in ascending and descending line.
Chart 1. Policies on family reunion
A recent comparative analysis of family reunion policies for migrants conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration shows that almost half of the countries (18/39) do not require a period of residence for migrants to apply for family reunion.
In the majority of cases (35/39), there is no language requirement. At the same time, reunification requirements are often linked to migrants’ accommodation (31/39) and/or economic resources (31/39), with countries usually setting at least one out of the two as a condition for reunion. The only exceptions are Israel and Slovenia which have established neither an accommodation nor an economic requirement.
Overall, the comparative analysis finds that none of the analysed countries meet all the four conditions, as all have at least one requirement for family reunion.
Secure residence status is a precondition for successful integration in all areas of life, as it provides migrants with stability in the new country and ensures rights and treatment equal to those of national citizens. Acquiring long-term residence further secures status and additional rights, including the right to free movement within the EU.
The status of long term/permanent resident ideally grants migrants as equal treatment as possible with nationals. Policies on this topic include whether temporary legal residents have access to a long-term/permanent residence permit, the conditions to obtain it, and the rights linked to this status.
Chart 1. Policies on permanent residence acquisition
A recent comparative analysis of the policies for permanent residence acquisition, conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration, reveals that third-country nationals (TCNs) have access to permanent residence within five years in the majority of the countries in the study (32/37). However, many countries (24/37) demand that TCNs attend language courses, usually including a language test.
Once permanent residence status is granted, almost all countries provide residents with equal and full access to social security and assistance (35/37).
Overall, only a fourth of the countries analysed (9/37) provide both simplified permanent residence procedures (with status accessible within no more than five years of residence and no language requirements) and full access to social security.
Anti-discrimination policies and laws promote equality and should apply to migrants and citizens irrespective of their (migrant) background. Antidiscrimination refers to migrants having effective legal protection from racial, ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life, such as employment, provision of public and private services, education and training.
Chart 1. Antidiscrimination policiesSource: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019
The recent comparative analysis conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration shows that almost all countries have antidiscrimination policies related to migrants’ characteristics (37/38). Legislation in the countries included in the analysis protects migrants against discrimination on at least two out of the following three grounds: race/ethnicity, religion and citizenship/nationality.
Furthermore, almost all countries (35/38) establish a specialised equality body with a mandate to combat discrimination on at least two of the following three grounds: race/ethnicity, religion and citizenship/nationality.
Health and integration are mutually reinforcing, as good health is both a precondition and a consequence of full participation in society. Health policies refers to ensuring equal access to migrants (like nationals), having health system responsive to migrants' specific needs and assisting migrants in accessing their health entitlements.
Chart 1. Policies on inclusion in the health system
A recent comparative analysis of policies fostering the inclusion of third-country nationals (TCNs) in the health system, conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration, shows that only 12 out of the 33 countries included in the study grant unconditional access to health care. Furthermore, in many cases (17/33), administrative burdens hamper TCNs’ health-care access (e.g. administrative discretion or certain documents may be required).
Certain targeted measures are in place to foster TCNs’ access to the health system. For example, some countries (14/33) promote health education for all categories of TCNs, including undocumented persons. Another measure implemented in 14 out of 33 countries is the availability of free of charge interpreters.
Finally, the comparative analysis underlines that in 11 countries none of the four conditions for inclusion of TCNs in the health system– providing unconditional inclusion, removing administrative barriers, providing health education and interpreters – are met.
Citizenship policies are the most frequently indexed areas of migration policy. Among these, the elements most commonly covered by indicators are, for example, the tolerance of dual nationality, the presence of birthright citizenship (ius soli), as well as the minimum residence duration and language or civic integration requirements for ordinary naturalisation.
The most comprehensive indexes addressing citizenship policies are:
Chart 1. Policies on access to citizenship
As evident from the recent comparative analysis conducted in the framework of the EU-funded project CrossMigration, migrants’ journey towards citizenship acquisition is rather difficult. A number of factors contribute to this.
The first reason relates to the duration of residence required before migrants are eligible to apply for naturalisation. Up to five years of residence are indeed required in only 11 out of 39 countries. The majority of countries (28/39) ask for more than five years for residence-based naturalisation; among them, 14 countries require between 5 and 10 years, and 14 countries ask for at least 10 years of residence.
Language and integration requirements are another factor hampering migrants from acquiring citizenship. Only four countries have no language requirements or ask for minimum proficiency at A1 level (i.e. IE, RS, SE, UA). The great majority of countries (35/39) has either set up higher assessment standards at A2, B1 levels or higher, or have established language evaluation procedures based on administrative discretion.
At the same time, integration assessment requirements appear less stringent. About half of the countries (19/39) have no integration requirements in force, or only asks for voluntary provision of information. The rest of the countries (20/39) require either the completion of an integration course or taking an integration test.
It is worth noting that despite the restrictive trends listed above, the majority of countries (24/39) allow the acquisition of citizenship without requiring migrants to renounce or lose their current one. The rest of the countries require migrants to renounce their original citizenship, but multiple substantial exemptions still may apply (e.g. weavers for persons possessing citizenship of certain countries of origin and/or persons who have acquired residence based on humanitarian grounds).
Less attention has been paid by researchers to the conceptualization and analysis of policies regarding irregular migration, expulsion and return of migrants. Three are the main aspects addressed in the area of irregular migration and expulsion of migrants, which are the sanctions for irregularity, grounds for expulsion and formal mechanisms for regularisation of irregular migrants. In this area, the main indexes to be taken in consideration are:
On voluntary returns, existing indexes cover the extent to which policies facilitate the return of migrants to their country of origin. Among others, we can list:
Emigration and diaspora engagement are other two migration policy areas that are under-represented in the realm of policy indicators projects. Among the most interesting, we can list: