Migration Policy Indicators

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.

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Introduction

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. 

Governance

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:

  • The Migration Governance Index (MGI), which has been created in 2015 by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)covers 50 countries. When addressing governance, MGI focuses in particular on the presence of a migration strategy, of a certain degree of institutional transparency and coherence, and of a process of gathering reliable data;
  • The Inquiry among Governments on Population and Development from the United Nations (UN). The indicators cover 200+ countries and it addresses the government framework on migration, and it looks also at whether the strategy aims at increasing or diminishing migratory flows.

Admission

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:

  • The Determinants of International Migration Index (DEMIG), which covers more than 6,500 changes in migration policy in 45 countries over the period between 1954 and 2013. DEMIG focuses on policy areas such as border control, legal entry, and it assesses whether a change bring a migration policy to be more or less restrictive;
  • The International Migration Policy and Law Analysis Index (IMPALA), which includes cross-national, cross-institutional, cross-disciplinary data. IMPALA compares immigration policy in 9 countries for 10 years with a particular focus on admission provisions.
  • The Immigration Policies in Comparison dataset (IMPIC), which includes information on immigration policy for the period 1980-2010 in 33 OECD countries. The aim is to gather sophisticated quantitative indices to measure immigration policies in all OECD countries and to explore the causes and effects of these provisions.
  • The Migration Governance Index (MGI) developed in 2015 by IOM. The index identifies policy levers to be used by countries in the development of their migration governance. This is a very helpful tool that identifies policy levers that countries might use to develop their migration governance. 
  • The United Nations’ Inquiry among Governments on Population and Development, which covers policies in 200+ countries on regular channels, highly skilled workers and family reunification. 


More sectorial indexes, which cover specific channels, include:

  • The Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), which aims to provide a comprehensive tool useful to assess, compare and improve integration policy. The index can be used to evaluate and compare what governments are doing to promote the integration of migrants in all the countries analysed. One set of indicators covers family reunification and permanent residence.
  • Cerna’s Index. This index covers labour migration and, in particular, targets high-skilled migrants. The author tries to capture openness and restrictiveness of migration policies in 20 countries from 2007 to 2012. The index is disaggregated into admissions mechanisms and work permit rights.
  • Immigration for employment index (IMMEX) which focuses specifically on labour immigration in 27 Member States of the European Union. The index addresses four domains: identification needs, conditions of admission, security of status acquired, rights associated with status.
  • Klugman and Pereira’s index, which assesses National Migration Policies with a particular focus on admission criteria, policies on integration and treatment of migrants. This index particularly addresses the entry channel which is irregular migration. 
  • Ruhs’ indexes. The author created two different indexes investigating the entry channel that is labour migration. The first index is the Openness Index, which focuses on more than 100 programs dealing with the admission of migrant workers implemented in 46 high- and middle-income countries in 2009. The policy openness of the programs analysed is evaluated against formal criteria, namely quotas, requirements that employers need to meet to employ third country nationals, and criteria that potential migrant workers need to meet to be admitted. The Migrant Rights Index, on the other hand, takes in consideration the same dataset but measures the legal rights (as the rights granted by national laws and policies) ensured to migrant workers on admission under particular labour immigration programs.

Integration

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). 

  • The Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), which aims to provide a comprehensive tool useful to assess, compare and improve integration policy. The index can be used to evaluate and compare what governments are doing to promote the integration of migrants in all the countries analysed. Policy areas covered by MIPEX are the following: labour market mobility, family reunification, access to nationality, anti-discrimination, political participation, education, health, permanent residence. 
  • The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM), which establishes a mechanism for a biennial, comprehensive evaluation of the policies to foster integration of beneficiaries of international protection, to provide evidence on gaps in integration standards, identify promising practices and evaluate the effects of legislative and policy changes. The tool allows for cross-country comparison in the dimensions of legal integration (residency, family unity and reunification, access to citizenship), socio-economic integration (housing, employment, vocational training, health and social security) and socio-cultural integration (education, language learning/social orientation and building bridges). For the first round, 14 countries were taken into account. 


Other relevant indexes which tackle the issue from a sectorial perspective are the following:

  • The Multicultural Policy Index (MPI), which focuses on the concept of multiculturalism. The index, which is based on 8 policy indicators, tries to estimate the government commitment to the recognition, accommodation and support of cultural differences of minority groups. In particular, the authors analysed multicultural policies in 21 Western countries at three points in time, i.e., 1980, 2000, 2010.
  • The Index of Citizenship Rights for Immigrants (ICRI), which addresses the trade-off between the recognition of individual equality and of cultural differences by nation-states to immigrants.  Rights in 8 thematic fields are considered, namely acquisition, family reunification, expulsion, anti-discrimination, public sector employment, political rights, cultural rights in education, and other cultural and religious rights. 
  • Civic Integration Policy Index (CIVIX), which scores civic integration requirements in 15 Member States of the EU and dates back to 2009. The index analyses three civic knowledge areas which are country knowledge, language and values.
  • MiTSoPro (The Migration and Transnational Social Protection in (post) crisis Europe), which addresses the link between migration and welfare across different European and non-European countries. It shed lights on the differences that occur between entitlement to social protection in migrants’ country of origin and of destination. 
  • The Every Immigrant is an Emigrant project (IMISEM), which captures both sides of migration policy: immigration and emigration provisions. The index gathers cross-regional data for 30 countries on very different profiles of migrants and try to seek for threads of coherence across the two sides of migration policies.

Labour market mobility

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

Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019


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

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

Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019


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

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

Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019


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.

Family reunion

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

Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019

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.

Permanent residence

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

 Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019


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

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

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 

Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019


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

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:

  • The Citizenship Law indicators (CITLAW) from the Global Citizenship Observatory (GlobalCit). This set of indicators covers citizenship legislative provisions. Firstly developed in the European context and then adapted globally, these indicators measure the modes of acquisition and loss of citizenship. 
  • The Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), which aims to provide a comprehensive tool useful to assess, compare and improve integration policy. The index can be used to evaluate and compare what governments are doing to promote the integration of migrants in all the countries analysed. One set of indicators covers the access to nationality. 
  • The Citizenship Implementation indicators (CITIMP) . This set of indicators moves beyond the measurement of outputs and allows for the analysis of obstacles within the ordinary naturalisation procedure. These indicators measure, among other aspects, the documentation required, the administrative steps, and the possibilities for review and appeal that are related to the naturalisation process. 
  • Peters’ and Shin’s indexes are example of longitudinal datasets, allowing for comparison over time dating back to the post-war era. Peters conceptualised a set of indicators on immigration policies, covering 19 countries from the late 18th century through the early 21st century. The author identified three main policy areas, namely policies that regulate who gains entry to the state (border regulations), what rights immigrants receive (immigrant rights) and how the border is enforced (enforcement). On the other hand, Shin created a policy index that measures the openness of a country to low-skilled migrant workers in a given year, he explored data from 23 relatively wealthy autocracies after World War II.


Chart 1. Policies on access to citizenship

Source: CrossMigration/Migration Policy Group (MPG), 2019


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).

Irregular, expulsion and return policies

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:

  • The Index of Citizenship Rights for Immigrants (ICRI), which addresses the trade-off between the recognition of individual equality and of cultural differences by nation-states to immigrants.  Rights in 8 thematic fields are considered, meaning acquisition, family reunification, expulsion, anti-discrimination, public sector employment, political rights, cultural rights in education, and other cultural and religious rights. 
  • The Nationalist Immigration and Integration Policy (NIIP) index, which covers several aspects linked to irregular migrants and expulsion. The index attempts to assess whether the integration and immigration policies developed by 9 countries under study had a clear right-wing orientation. The policy considered addressed areas such as citizenship, asylum, illegal residence/ regularisation, family reunion and civic integration. 
  • Peters’ set of indicators, which provides a contribution to the study of expulsion policies by addressing the administrative/judicial process, including safeguard criteria and checks.  Peters conceptualised a set of indicators on immigration policies, covering 19 countries from the late 18th century through the early 21st century. The author identified three main policy areas including policies that regulate who gains entry to the state (border regulations), what rights immigrants receive (immigrant rights) and how the border is enforced (enforcement).


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:

  • The Dashboard of indicators for measuring policy and institutional coherence for migration and development (PICMD), which is a user-friendly tool that aims to benchmark current policy against international best practices, in order to minimize the risks and maximise the gain from migration. Among other elements, it addresses also policies promoting reintegration of emigrants (programmes, funding, benefits). 
  • The Emigrant Policies Index (EMIX), which analyses the presence of return programmes – including benefits for returnees (e.g., recognition of academic qualifications, tax exemption) – and integration programmes for them. EMIX focuses on emigration policies in developing countries and it analyses the policies of 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries concerning emigration. It includes information about 102 policy indicators, divided in 12 dimensions and two components, namely policies and the administration setting developed to cope with their design and implementation.
  • The United Nations Inquiry among Governments on Population and Development, which ncludes indicators on return policies for citizens living abroad and for migrants in the country of destination who want to come back to their countries of origin. 

Emigration / Diaspora Policies

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:

  • The Emigrant Policies Index (EMIX), which focuses on emigration policies in developing countries and it analyses the policies of 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries concerning emigration. It includes information about 102 policy indicators, divided in 12 dimensions and two components, namely policies and the administration setting developed to cope with their design and implementation. 
  • The Diaspora Engagement Policies dataset, which covers the policy in place in 64 countries (both developing and developed countries). The index addresses the relationship between a state and its emigrants, it investigates how state can constitute various extra-territorial groups to foster the loyalty of the diaspora through a diverse range of institutions and practices. Three main practices are evaluated, namely capacity building policies, the extension of rights to the diaspora and the extraction of obligations from the diaspora. 
  • The Diaspora policies dataset, which includes 35 developed and developing countries from all around the world and covers thematic areas such as social and economic policies, citizenship related policies, government influence in diaspora relations. The dataset is composed of 19 indicators, regrouped in five headings: symbolic policies, social and economic policies, religious and cultural policies, citizenship policies and government and bureaucratic control.
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