The Index addresses the factors shaping the granting of rights of individual equality and recognition of cultural differences by nation-states to immigrants.
The index considers rights in the eight thematic fields of nationality acquisition, family reunification, expulsion, anti-discrimination, public-sector employment for non-nationals, political rights for non-nationals, cultural rights in education, as well as other cultural and religious rights.
Theoretically, these rights for immigrants are classified according to two dimensions that partly cross-cut the eight thematic fields. The first dimension captures the inclusiveness of a country's understanding of citizenship. The second dimension shows how countries deal with cultural and religious diversity.
The index is based on 44 policy indicators, 21 pertaining to the individual equality dimension and 23 to the cultural difference dimension. All indicators are coded on a scale running from -1 (most restrictive) to +1 (most inclusive), and the same, therefore, also holds for the averaged scores.
The project is based on original data drawn from policy documents, legal texts, secondary literature, internet websites, and expert information. The qualitative information from these sources is transformed into ordinal codes, classifying policies as more or less restrictive in terms of the extent and accessibility of rights for immigrants.
In the first phase of the project data have been gathered for ten North-Western European countries for four measurement years: 1980, 1990, 2002, and 2008. In a second phase, data was collected for four classical anglo-saxon settler countries as well as for additional Eastern and Southern European countries, Middle Eastern, East Asian, African and South American countries. As a result, data is now available for 29 countries for the year 2008.