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LIfBi lectures: The social integration of immigrants is determined by their former social position in their country of origin


In his guest talk on February 8, 2018, Mathieu Ichou, PhD, from the INED French Institute for Demographic Studies, emphasizes the role of immigrants’ selectivity when it comes to analysing their social integration.

Mathieu Ichou, PhD, during his lecture at LIfBi 

While focussing on the post-migration phase, mainstream integration theories ignore the social reality of immigrants prior to migration. The decision to migrate is determined by social and material resources and migrants have to overcome not only a geographic but also a social distance. Integration outcomes are not only determined by the relative social position of immigrants in their country of residence but also by their relative position in their country of origin. The former and the latter are often inconsistent.

To measure how people who migrate differ from those who stay in their country of birth, data from immigrants’ countries of origin and destination can be matched. Most immigrants in Europe are positively selected regarding education, meaning that they tend to have a higher educational attainment than the average educational attainment of the society in their country of origin. Ichou shows that this educational selectivity of immigrants affects the educational attainment of their children, even controlling for the socioeconomic status in the country of residence. Future research could investigate further dimensions and outcomes of selectivity.