Cross-Country Performance in Social Integration of Older Migrants. A European Perspective

Cross-Country Performance in Social Integration of Older Migrants. A European Perspective

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Caroline Berchet & Nicolas Sirven, 2012. « Cross-Country Performance in Social Integration of Older Migrants. A European Perspective, » Working Papers DT46, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Mar 2012.

This paper provides new empirical evidence on the relationship between migration and social integration. It explores the hypothesis that migrants essentially differ from non-migrants with regard to the length of residence in the country – which is a proxy of migrants’ social distance to natives. The determinants of social participation and interpersonal trust are examined at both the individual and institutional level. Using SHARE data and macroeconomic series, we first analyse the influence of immigrant length of stay in the host country on social integration indicators. We then examine the role institutional characteristics play on cross-country differences in speed of social integration (i.e. immigrants’ propensity to social participation according to their length of stay in the host country). As expected, the immigrant population presents a lower likelihood than the native population to get involved in social activities and to trust other people. Nevertheless, the more immigrants have spent time in the host country, the more they take part in social activities. The analysis also reveals significant cross-country differences in immigrants’ speed of social integration. Macroeconomic series like the GINI coefficient of income inequality and the Corruption perceived index could explain these differences. From a public policy perspective, our results suggest that immigrants’ social integration is more rapidly achieved in “fair” countries – i.e. those with a more favourable social environment – where the levels of income inequality and perceived corruption are lower.

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