Overview of conclusions: Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets

The project has investigated how the labour market integration of refugees and other migrant groups in the Nordic countries can be facilitated. In the final report, researchers from across the Nordic countries review and evaluate existing research on the labour market integration of foreign born in both the Nordics and elsewhere.

A main focus of the report lies on drawing conclusions on appropriate measures, for instance in the areas of education policy, labour market policy and wage policy. The report also examines the role of public and private providers of integration efforts as well as the impact of social benefits on labour market outcomes. The following list provides an overview of the central research questions as well as selected conclusions from the reports’s main chapters.

Chapter 1. Tuomas Pekkarinen: Education Efforts for Immigrants
Which educational or training measures are likely to be most successful in strengthening migrants’ connection to the labour market?
• Facilitating and incentivizing the participation of immigrant children in pre-primary education should be a priority.
• Initiatives that combine education and subsidized employment may be a promising tool for integrating adult immigrants into the labour market.

Chapter 2. Anders Böhlmark: Education Policy for Adolescent Immigrants
Which measures, directed at adolescents in school age, can facilitate their later entry into the labour market?
• Existing evidence suggests that tutoring, small-group learning and study support in the mother tongue could benefit newly arrived immigrant students. Individual knowledge assessments at an early stage after immigration, study plans and summer/holiday school are also important.
• Vocational education also could also be made more popular among immigrant students. They have been underrepresented in these programmes in the past, but could benefit from them.

Chapter 3. Pernilla Andersson Joona: Labour Market Policies – What Works for Newly Arrived Immigrants?
Which active labour market policies have the most favourable effects on the employment of immigrants?
• Research suggests that subsidized employment, labour market training (in the longer run) and intensified coaching and counselling (at least in Sweden) have good effects.
• Other measures have been less effective in bringing newly arrived immigrants into employment, for instance participatory education in Sweden and on-the-job language training in Norway.

Chapter 4. Vibeke Jakobsen and Torben Tranæs: Organising the Actors in Integration Policy
Which actors should be responsible for the labour market integration of refugees?
• Available research does not support the view that private providers are more efficient than public ones in bringing people into employment: rather the opposite is suggested. Cost analyses indicate that the poorer performance of private providers is not compensated for by lower costs.
• There is some (weak) support that the central administration of employment services is superior to local administration if measured in terms of the job-finding rate of unemployed individuals.

Chapter 5. Bernt Bratsberg et al.: Social Insurance Design and the Economic Integration of Immigrants
Which social security rights do migrants have, and how do different benefit levels support or impair their participation in the labour market?
• For the Nordic countries, existing evidence suggests that immigrants from low-income countries respond more strongly than natives to social insurance generosity.
• Offering income through activation, rather than just providing money, may reduce moral hazard problems and facilitate the use of vacant labour resources for productive purposes.

Chapter 6. Jacob Nielsen Arendt and Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen: Employment Effects of Welfare Policies for Non-Western Immigrant Women
How can the integration of migrant women into the labour market be facilitated?
• The sparse available evidence indicates positive employment effects of language training. Post-secondary education is another area that may generate large employment effects in the long run.
• Active labour market policies and social benefit policies have shown mostly positive short-term employment effects, but the effects vary and are often more moderate for women than for men.

Chapter 7. Simon Ek and Per Skedinger: Wage Policies and the Integration of Immigrants
How do different kinds of wage policies affect the employment levels of migrants?
• Minimum wage reductions could likely improve labour market prospects for low-skilled immigrants, but such cuts would probably need to be fairly large, implying a trade-off between increased employment and increased wage inequality that should be taken seriously.
• Targeted minimum wage reductions – applied to permanent, new types of jobs for the low-skilled – could likely achieve a better balance between the conflicting goals of high employment and wage equality.

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