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Pieter Bevelander - Current research

Current Research projects


1. Title: Political Integration of Natives, Minorities and Immigrants (MIM)


Like in most “old” settler societies like Canada and the US, the number of immigrants in Europe has increased dramatically. It is widely held that both political representation and voter turnout among immigrants and ethnic minorities is lower than among native born. Both representation and participation are core responsibilities in the electoral process in democratic societies. One way to activate non-citizens politically is by allowing legally non-citizens to vote in local and regional elections like for example in some European countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. But in most European countries this responsibility is restricted to citizens. Another way of dealing with this “democratic deficit” is like in Canada to increase political representation in parties and various governments and the number of and voters by having a low threshold for acquisition of citizenship by immigrants.

This research project aims at a better understanding of the political representation and participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities relative to natives and focus on the selected EU countries of Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in comparison to Canada. The selection of these countries is partly based on the different political- and economic systems, immigration histories and data availability in these four countries. Whereas the political systems are more likewise between UK/Canada and the Netherlands/Sweden, the migration histories for the Netherlands/UK are more alike. In economic respect the Netherlands/Sweden and UK/Canada are more comparable. Moreover a major advantage is that for all these countries quantitative data on representation and voting participation by immigrants and ethnic minorities is available. For Sweden and the Netherlands it is also possible to study the representation and participation of non-nationals.

The two fundamental questions of this research project are:
1. to study both the individual as well as structural factors explaining the differences in political representation in local, provincial and national government between natives and various groups of immigrants/ethnic minorities in the four earlier mentioned countries,
2. to study both individual as well as structural factors explaining the differences in voting participation in local, provincial and national elections between natives and various groups of immigrants/ethnic minorities.

On the individual level the study will focus on the age, gender, family characteristics, socio-economic position like educational level and economic integration, language acquisition, length of stay, citizenship acquisition and country of birth/Ethnicity. At the structural level the study will focus on the importance of national migration, integration and in particular citizenship policies related towards the immigrant population/ethnic minorities affecting the political representation and political participation.

Finally, this research will address the question if it is possible to device policies, migration, integration and citizenship, at the national level and EU level that could enhance a larger political representation and participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities and achieve how democratic “ownership” for these groups could develop in the EU.

2. Labor market integration of refugees in Sweden and Canada (del av TEMPO projektet- finansierad av NORFACE) 2009-2013 ( cirka 1.4 miljoner kronor)

Project summary The project will examine the assimilation patterns of non-economic migrants – an area in which our understanding is limited. The researchers will study the labour market outcomes of non-economic migrants in Sweden, a country in which refugees represent about 40% of those granted permanent residence, and carry out a comparative analysis with Canada. In particular, they will compare the patterns of labour market integration for different groups of resettled refugees, with those of other humanitarian immigrants that came as asylum seekers. To do so, they will exploit one important difference between the groups, namely their settlement patterns. In fact, resettled refugees are often relocated in the northern part of Sweden, and thus in smaller communities, far from major cities. Whereas in Canada, despite efforts to encourage immigration to smaller towns, the vast majority of immigrants gravitate toward the large urban centres.

The analysis for Sweden will be based on longitudinal register data for the period 1997-2007, and will employ standard econometric techniques to assess how wage and employment differentials can be explained by individual demographic characteristics, labour market experience and local and regional contextual characteristics (city size, occupational distribution and share of minorities). The analysis for Canada will be based on the IMDB dataset (a longitudinal immigration-taxation linked dataset). While the Canadian data is not as rich as the one available for Sweden, the IMDB tables will allow the team to examine income and employment prospects for refugees in Canada (albeit with a more limited set of variables). The goal of this project is twofold. On the one hand it will increase our understanding and knowledge of the labour market integration prospects for resettled refugees in the two countries. Second, the Canada-Sweden comparison will allow us to examine how two rather different policy regimes affect refugee outcomes. Doing so will thus help inform policies aimed at a better reception and integration of refugees in the host country labour market.

3. Scandinavia’s population groups of developing countries’ origin: Change and Integration (finansierad av Nordiska Rådet) 2009-2012 (circa 500.000 kronor)

Project summary The project will document how the groups in question emerged and developed over time by focusing on their increase due to the various growth components, such as immigration and births, on changes in their age-sex structure, and on shifts in their compositions by selected traits, e.g. immigrants versus descendants. It will concern three aspects of the groups’ integration - the adaptation of demographic behaviour, incorporation into the educational system and the integration in the labour market. These different facets of population dynamics and integration will be considered when pursuing insights into effects of policies and practices. This comparative, cooperative, multidisciplinary, policy-relevant project - a first ever of this kind to be proposed for a group of countries - will compare the population groups within each of the three host countries, contrast the various groups with the native population in every country as well as compare the groups of the same national origins across the host countries. The study will make use the various indicators, both established and novel, which will be quantified employing longitudinal, individual-level data available in the various linkable registers maintained by the three Scandinavian countries. The variety of the indicators will not only enrich the study, but will also sensitize Nordic policy makers to opportunities of developing sets of common indicators conducive to comparisons, inter alia, of the integration of the foreign-origin groups both within and across different countries. Members of the scholarly and policy-making communities of the three countries, the entire Nordic region and of the wider Europe will be a project’s target audience. Research results will be communicated through national seminars and reports, scientific and policy conferences, and scientific journals and a book of selected findings. Researcher from Denmark, Norway and Sweden and a researcher from Switzerland will collaborate on the project.

4. Regulating intimate lives – consequences of changes in Danish family migration rules (Finansierad av Danska forskningrådet. I samarbete med Social Forsknings Institutet, Köpenhamn) (circa 300.000 kronor)

Project summary

The main research question for this project is the following: How are marriage patterns in immigrant families reproduced or changed over time, and how may this development be affected by the specific nation state context?

Denmark presents an internationally unprecedented opportunity for investigating this topic. This is due to a legal reform that, since 2002, explicitly has sought to alter immigrant marriage patterns through prohibiting, for example, marriage migration for spouses in couples where any spouse is under 24 years old. We will use this reform as a “natural experiment” – affecting changes with a “before” and a gradually unfolding “after” state – to assess changes in both marriage patterns and in the rationales underlying them.

To do so we propose the following four sub-projects: The first sub-project, Can marriage behaviour be regulated? uses register data and statistical methods to analyse how the marriage behaviour and emigration behaviour of immigrant youth has been affected by the 2002-reform. Key questions that will be answered are to what extent the reform has decreased the importance of transnational marriages among immigrant youth and to what extent immigrant youth have circumvented the new barriers against transnational marriages by emigrating, e.g. to Sweden. The results from this sub-project will provide us with a quantitative base line to be used in the three other sub-projects.

The second sub-project, dynamics of change in immigrant families’ marriage decision making, investigates how the changed legislation has affected family authority structures. The specific focus will be changes in decision-making, including scope for youth autonomy, as well as changes in constructions of what is deemed “good spouses”, subsequent to the imposition of marriage migration restrictions. The sub-project uses in-depth interviews with immigrant youth and their parents spanning a decade. It compares the finds to the rationales behind choosing “good spouses” as expressed in a comparative qualitative sample with native Danes, carried out for an on-going SFI research project.

The third sub-project, Gender, legislation, and spousal choice, investigates differences in men’s and women’s adaptation to the changed legal context. What can their adaptation – and the rationales underlying it – teach us on the interplay between transnational social networks and men’s and women’s differential assimilation to host-country norms and practices? The study combines register data analysis with qualitative analysis of existing and new interviews with immigrant youth.

The fourth sub-project, Geography, mobility and marriage strategies, focuses on couples who, in spite of the reform, marry spouses from abroad, and subsequently move to Sweden. It investigates who moves as compared to the non-moving immigrant youth, and explores how the reform has affected their subsequent lives, including determining who returns to Denmark as compared to the couples who remain in Sweden. The study combines Danish and Swedish quantitative data with in-depth interviews with immigrants settled in Sweden.

5. INTERMAR- Integration of International marriages: Empirical Evidence from Europe and North America (Marie Curie visiting postdoc position at MIM)/ EU 7th Framework. (circa 2.5 miljoner kronor)

Project summary Increased international migration has brought the integration of immigrants to the forefront of sociopolitical topics in the EU and North America. Although the economic and political aspects of immigrants’ integration have been scrutinized, little is known about immigrants’ social interactions with the native population. Interethnic marriages have been posited as a factor that undermines racial barriers and, thus, contribute to the integration between immigrants and natives (Bossard 1939, Kennedy 1943, Price 1982, Giorgas and Jones 2002).

While the probability of people from different ethnic groups to intermarry has been widely examined, few researchers have focused on the success or failure of these intermarriages. Those who did (Crester and Leon 1982, Rankin and Maneker 1987, Ho and Johnson 1990, Phillips and Sweeney 2005) studied marriages between people from different ethnic groups by focusing on cultural differences. In the process they omitted other potential factors such as the motivation to intermarry or the consequences of migration on the survival of the unions. I believe these factors may also affect the survival of the union and that is why I am interested in analyzing the survival of international couples, i.e., those in which at least one partner is an immigrant.

In scant studies of divorced couples comprised of immigrants and natives (Neyrand and M'Sili 1997, Kalmijn et al. 2005, Cao et al. 2008), mixed couples were more likely to divorce that homogeneous couples. These authors explained this gap by individual and cultural factors, such as gender, country of origin, and religion. These empirical studies conducted in a single country ignore environmental factors such as national integration models (i.e., multiculturalism, assimilation, melting pot) and immigration policies. I assert that the integration of immigrants and, thus, the success of international marriages may also be affected by environmental factors. Particularly, I argue that different immigration histories, policies, and integration models may affect the integration of newcomers and thus, the duration of international marriages. I believe that international couples, as opposed to interethnic couples from the same country, face a ‘liability of foreignness’, i.e. additional challenges related to migration.

These challenges include the impact of migration on one or both partners (as in the case of international couples in which both partners are immigrants) and their need to integrate into a new environment. For the same reason, I think that environmental factors in the host society, which can facilitate or hinder the labour and social integration of newcomers, can be a significant force in explaining the success or failure of international marriages. Thus, I suggest that micro (individual), meso (cultural), and macro (environmental) level factors interact to affect the success of international couples and should be taken into account when analyzing the survival rates of these unions.

Marrying abroad has become an alternative to overcoming difficulties in getting immigration visas. Although this paper does not focus on studying the marriage business, I believe that the reasons to intermarry may affect the success level of international marriages. This study is design to analyze marriages prior to and after the act of migration to assess potential differences in survival rates. In sum, this project is motivated by the scarcity of studies that have addressed the integration of international couples from a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, i.e., by considering not only cultural variables but also individual and environmental factors that may affect the surivival of these unions.

Based on these premises, I state the objectives of this proposal as follows:
(1) To build a conceptual framework for the survival of ‘international marriages’ (i.e., couples in which at least one of the spouses is foreign-born) that involves the interaction of individual, cultural and environmental factors.
(2) To provide a theoretical model to assess the effects of the opportunity cost of migration and of the couples’ internal cultural differences on the success of international marriages in two scenarios: in countries with favourable environmental conditions for the integration of immigrants and in integrationadverse countries.
(3) To empirically analyze this model in selected European and North American countries in order to assess and compare the effects of individual, cultural and context-related factors on the success of international couples. Marital success can be measured in at least two ways: by the satisfaction level of the partners and by the duration of the union (which may or may not be a result of marital satisfaction). Given data availability and conceptual accuracy, I suggest to analyze the survival of international marriages in terms of the number of years lived together.

This project aims to contribute to the literature by positing the following research questions: (i) Is there a significant difference in marital survival for international couples and those in which partners are compatriots?, (ii) If there is a gap, what are the factors that explain it?, (iii) Given the migratory and cultural difficulties international couples may face, what motivates people from different countries to marry?, And, finally, (iv) does the motivation (i.e. prior to or after migration) to intermarry affect the survival of the union?
It has been stated that interethnic marriages can undermine racial barriers and, thus, contribute to the integration between immigrants and natives. Nevertheless, the literature shows that international couples are more likely to divorce than native couples. I expect that the results of this study will confirm this hypothesis and extend previous studies by explaining the interactive effect of micro-, meso- and macro-level factors on the likelihood of divorce for international couples.
This interdisciplinary study will have relevant policy implications for the integration between immigrants and native-born people. I argue that empirical cross-country studies based on a comprehensive model would provide insights into the factors which contribute to the success or failure of international unions. The following policy implications could be inferred depending on the results of the study: if micro-level factors, such as age, education, and linguistic abilities matter, then governmental immigrant selection techniques which take into account these factors will influence marital survival. On the other hand, where integration policies are paramount in determining survival rates, the revision of these policies would be suggested. Finally, if survival rates depend on the time of marriage (i.e., before or after migration), this may have implications for spousal immigration policies.
The complex nature of the subject offers the possibility of approaching it from multiple disciplines. Due to scant sociological studies on international marriage survival, the suggested study comprises psychological insights as well as factors gleaned from empirical studies on mainstream and interethnic marriages. Thus, this is an interdisciplinary study where sociological and psychological aspects are combined to be treated with econometric techniques.

Last updated by Sarah Stancs