Changes in context: can integration policies respond to the needs?

Nearly 20 million residents (or 4%) are non-EU citizens

The low-educated make up 37% of working-age non-EU immigrants in EU

Risk of poverty or social exclusion increased 4 points to 49%

Employment rates (aged 20-64) dropped 6 points on average in the EU to 56.5%

  1. Within the EU, nearly 20 million residents (or 4%) are non-EU citizens. The number of non-EU newcomers was relatively stable from 2008-2013, due to fewer labour migrants and more recognised beneficiaries of international protection)
  2. Since 2008 and crisis/austerity, non-EU citizens’ employment rates (aged 20-64) dropped 6 points on average in the EU to 56.5% in 2014 , while their risk of poverty or social exclusion increased 4 points to 49%, twice the level for EU citizens
  3. The low-educated make up 37% of working-age non-EU immigrants in EU (aged 18-64); a growing share are university-educated (around 1/4) , compared to 45% of immigrants in traditional countries
  4. Immigration should be a top item on the EU agenda, according to an increasing number of EU residents (24% in autumn 2014, up +16% since 2012, esp. BG, DK, DE, IT, MT, SE, UK), ranked just after the economy (33%), unemployment (29%) and public financing (25%)
  1. This agenda comes at a time of major government changes and close elections in several major destinations (e.g. between 2010-2014 in AU, BE, FR, GR, IT, PT, ES, UK, Nordics)
  2. Far-right parties have never done better in recent European history, threatened mainstream parties and even entered into government/kingmaker positions (unthinkable in 2000 with EU boycott threat of AT over FPÖ); e.g. 2014 European Parliament elections saw vote shares of ≈25% in DK, FR, UK, 20% in AT, 15% in FI, HU, LV, LT and NL and 10% in GR and SE
  3. Public opinion on immigration is divergent across the EU and generally uninformed. In 2012, 2/3 thought that immigrants should have equal rights, from 30-40% in CY, HU, LV to 80-90% in Nordics, NL, PT and ES . In 2014, non-EU immigration evoke ‘negative feelings’ in 57% EU residents, especially in Baltic, Central and Southeast Europe . While the public is grossly over-estimates the number of immigrants and correcting this improves their attitudes, few think that their public immigration debates are based on facts.

Policy indicators: Key Findings

Integration policies in the 38 MIPEX policies are, on average, ambivalent about equal rights and opportunities for immigrants. Scoring 52/100, integration policies in these developed democracies create slightly more obstacles than obstacles for immigrants to fully participate in economic, social and democratic life.

Immigrants generally face greater obstacles in emerging destination countries with small numbers of immigrants and high levels of anti-immigrant sentiment (the Baltics, JP, Central and Southeast Europe; EU13 average is 41/100). Immigrants usually benefit from more equal rights and opportunities in wealthier, older and larger countries of immigration, for example in Western Europe (EU15 average is 60/100) and traditional countries of immigration (67/100 on average for AU, CA, NZ, US). But political will may matter more than a country’s tradition of immigration, since more inclusive integration policies may both encourage more immigrants to settle permanently and the public to trust immigrants more.

For example, integration policies differ significantly between DE and AT/CH, DK and SE, BE and FR, PT and ES, JP and KR or between EE, LV and LT.

The greatest areas of strength are that migrant workers, reunited families and permanent residents enjoy basic security, rights and protection from discrimination. Within Europe, national policies are more strong and similar in these areas covered by EU law. The greatest obstacles are for foreign citizens to become citizens or politically active and for mainstream services to guarantee equal access and opportunities for immigrants (targeted employment, education and health support). In Europe, policies are generally weaker and divergent in these areas of national policy.

ScoreChange Since 2010*
3New Zealand700
ScoreChange Since 2010*
15United Kingdom576
18South Korea531
23Czech Republic453
ScoreChange Since 2010*

Policy indicators: changes

*On average, countries slightly improved their score on the MIPEX 100-point-scale. The country average policy change between 2014-2019 was +2 points.

  1. Integration policies continue to improve very slowly over time, but sometimes with significant impact in a particular area of life. While the average change was +2 points between 2014-2019, this change was greater than the +1 points average between 2010-2014.
  2. Over the past five years, the MIPEX52 score (average of the 52 countries’ scores) increased by +4 points on basic rights, by +5 on equal opportunities and by +1 on secure future. Equal opportunities - the least developed of the three dimensions - thus saw the greatest improvements between 2014 and 2019.
  3. Positively, the greatest policy improvements were in the two international areas of weakness: +7 points on education and +10 points on political participation.
  4. Permanent residence is the only area in which immigrants have seen policies worsening (-1 points).
  5. 33 countries improved their integration policies overall between 2014-2019, although seven only saw an improvement of +1. The most dramatic improvements occurred in Turkey (+17), Brazil (+12) and Luxembourg (+10).
  6. 10 countries undermined their integration policies during the same period, due to restrictive changes (Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and the US). The greatest backsliding occurred in Argentina, Australia, and Denmark (-4).
  7. Nine countries received the same score in 2014 and 2019, due to balance between positive and negative changes, only minor improvements or minor restrictions (Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and UK), or no changes at all (India, New Zealand and Romania).
  8. Between 2007-2010, major reforms were passed in just a handful of countries (in Luxembourg on all areas, in Greece on citizenship & voting rights, in Austria on targeted employment support, in Czechia on anti-discrimination, in Latvia on access to education and training).
  1. Most significantly, 6 countries experienced such significant policy changes that these new policies represent a major shift in the country’s overall approach to integration:
    _Argentina: Argentina’s current approach can now only classified as ‘Equality on Paper’ as recent restrictions undermined its comprehensive approach to integration and its commitment to equal opportunities.
    _Brazil: Major reforms (mostly in 2017) transformed Brazil’s halfway “Equality on paper’” policies into a slightly favourable “comprehensive approach.” These changes have now landed Brazil in the International ‘Top 10’ countries.
    _Iceland: Iceland’s anti-discrimination policies can be seen as a major recognition of Iceland as a country of immigration. Before, immigrants who settled in Iceland do not enjoy equal rights or opportunities (“immigration without integration”). Now, newcomers benefit from a slightly favourable comprehensive approach.
    _Ireland: Ireland’s 2017-2020 Migrant Integration Strategy created a slightly favourable comprehensive approach focused on equal rights and opportunities, which launched Ireland into the International ‘Top 10’ countries.
    _Norway: Given the insecurity facing immigrants who want to settle permanently, Norway fell from the ‘Top Ten’ to the top of the second category of leading countries. Its comprehensive approach now lacks key aspects of equality.
    _Turkey: Turkey has had to recognise itself as a country of immigration that must guarantee basic rights and opportunities, for example to education, health, the labour market and non-discrimination. Despite this major shift from being a country of “immigration without integration”, Turkey’s new “comprehensive approach” is still only halfway favourable, with slightly more obstacles than opportunities for integration in Turkey.
  2. For comparison: Between 2010-2014, 10 countries passed major reforms (Denmark’s several reforms catching up with policies in Nordics, Germany and international trends; more targeted support in Austria and Germany and dual nationality for 2nd generation in Germany; Czechia and Poland adopt EU-required anti-discrimination laws and domestic citizenship reforms; Bulgaria implements EU law).

Beneficiaries: who could benefit from integration policies?


5-7% of non-EU citizen adults in the EU were not living with their spouse or partner


1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens were not in employment, education or training, especially women and the low-educated


Discrimination reported experienced by: 27% of people belonging to ethnic minorities 13% belonging to religious minorities

The need for ambitious integration policies is clear across European countries, according to the latest comparable data (mostly from 2013). 5-7% of non-EU citizen adults in the EU were not living with their spouse or partner in 2011/2 and thus may be potential sponsors for family reunion. On average, 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens were not in employment, education or training, especially women and the low-educated.

Discrimination was reportedly experienced by 27% of people belonging to ethnic minorities and 13% belonging to religious minorities. While the public often talks about immigrants as newcomers, on average 3/4 of non-EU citizens were settled for 5+ years in most European countries, including Southern and Central Europe. More than half lived there long enough to apply for citizenship across the EU.

Beneficiaries: who really benefits?

The links between integration policies and outcomes are not always clear. Some countries actively improve their policies to respond to problems on the ground, while others ignore them. Some policies are reaching many eligible immigrants, while others are poorly implemented or limited to small-scale projects and best practices. The MIPEX review of statistics and evaluations (Bilgili 2015) suggest that ambitious policies are helping immigrants and their children in practice to reunite together, get basic training, become permanent residents, voters and citizens and use their rights as victims of discrimination. This can benefit everyone in society.
Researchers using MIPEX around the world find that the countries with inclusive integration policies also tend to be more developed, competitive and happier places for immigrants and everyone to live in.

Inclusive policies may also help us trust immigrants and see the benefits of immigration to our society, while restrictive policies harden distrust and xenophobic attitudes among the public. A drop in a country’s MIPEX score usually signals a rise in anti-immigrant attitudes and the success of far-right parties. The MIPEX network hopes to continue monitoring whether integration policies become more ambitious and effective, learning from the latest research and improving its indicators. We aim to bring a greater level of maturity and evidence to the often politicised debates about the successes and failures of integration policies around the world.


best____Almost all non-EU immigrants enjoy a secure status and equal rights to participate in the country’s economic, social and democratic life—and should not take this for granted.

best____They choose to permanent residents, voters and/or citizens after a few years and their children automatically become citizens, all as a normal part of the integration process.

best____Separated families are able to reunite when their sponsor has the basic legal income and housing expected of all families in the country, with clear exemptions and protections for vulnerable families.

best____Large numbers of newcomers and their children can and do participate in effective training and support to get the right professional skills, degree or job.

best____All residents are or have been learning the language to the best of their abilities through free and flexible courses and materials.

best____Nearly all non-EU citizens are guaranteed equal healthcare coverage in law and in practice, accessible information and equal quality care.

best____Most people in the country know their rights as potential victims of discrimination and more and more are reporting these incidents, thanks to the strong and well resourced anti-discrimination laws and equality bodies, policies and NGOs.


worst____Immigrants have almost no prospects for long-term integration. Non-EU workers are tied to their jobs, required to leave after a few years and not able to access social security or any general or targeted support.

worst____People in the country are uninformed about discrimination and unable to bring forward a case alone, without a dedicated anti-discrimination law, procedure or equality body.

worst____Non-EU citizens are discouraged from becoming politically active because all are seen as potential ‘threats’ and denied even basic political liberties.

worst____The education and health system are excluding legally and socially vulnerable groups and are non-responsive to immigrants’ specific needs.

worst____Hardly any non-EU citizens are allowed to reunite with their family or become long-term residents or citizens, under the country’s policies.

worst____The only exceptions are made for people with ‘high skills’, high incomes or special personal or ethnic ties.

worst____The few others eligible must prove their ‘integration’ through discretionary interviews and prove unrealistically high language proficiency, all without enough free course and materials to succeed.

worst____Overall, immigration is turning the country into one of the most exclusive democracies in the world, with a growing democratic deficit of adults denied the right to vote and citizenship, even for the 2nd or 3rd generation born and educated there.

Final remarks: key findings on integration policies and their beneficiaries

Most labour market policies focus on helping immigrants to find jobs – and most do after 10+ years, but often lower quality jobs below their qualifications or below the poverty line. Policies tend to provide basic information and access to most types of jobs, self-employment and trainings. Traditional countries of immigration and most Western European countries are increasingly investing in more effective general and targeted programmes, but many may be too new or small to reach the many non-EU men and women in need, who rarely access trainings or unemployment benefits.

For the small number of transnational families, family reunion policies are one major factor determining whether or not they reunite in the country. Non-EU families of all types are more likely to reunite in countries with inclusive family reunion policies, like Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal. However several countries are becoming more restrictive, given the influence of populist parties, and expecting transnational families to live up standards that many national families could not.

As countries become more diverse, schools and health services are slow to adapt to immigrants’ specific needs. Few staff are trained, equipped or required to respond. Immigrants’ basic access to these services depends a lot on their legal status. Traditional countries of immigration and a few in Northern Europe are offering more personalised general and targeted support, which seems to reach larger number of immigrants in need and may help explain their progress over time.

Policies largely determine whether immigrants are settling down permanently, becoming voters and becoming equal citizens. Restricting permanent residence and citizenship (e.g. AT, CY, GR) leads to large numbers of ‘permanently temporary’ foreigners who are legally precarious and socially excluded. Facilitating permanent residence but restricting citizenship (e.g. DK, IT, CH, EE, LV) means most immigrants are secure in their status but treated like ‘second-class citizens’ in national politics and several areas of life. Equal rights are not guaranteed in practice in countries whose policies privilege certain national or ethnic groups over others (e.g. HU, JP, KR and ES). In contrast, confident countries of immigration like New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Portugal opened up these opportunities, so that most immigrants enjoy equal and secure rights that boost their integration outcomes in many areas of life.

Strong anti-discrimination laws have spread across Europe, thanks to the EU, but remain relatively new and under-resourced. Potential victims are often uninformed and poorly supported to access justice because equality policies, bodies and NGOs have few powers and little reach. The time has come for enforcement. Most victims are not coming forward with complaints, so countries still have to take the 1st steps in the long path to justice.

Note: The MIPEX health strand was developed in a three-way collaboration between MPG, IOM and COST Action ADAPT (Adapting European Health Services to Diversity). COST is the EU Association for European Cooperation in Science and Technology. The normative framework underlying the health strand was provided by the Council of Europe’s (2011) Recommendations on mobility, migration and access to health care (see and ). These recommendations were formulated during a two-year process of consultation with researchers, health professionals, national and international organisations, as well as NGOs serving or run by migrants.

Financing of the additional costs of the Health strand was provided by the IOM in the framework of its project ‘Equi-Health’ (Fostering Health Provision for Migrants, the Roma, and other Vulnerable Groups) (see ). This project is co-financed by the EU’s Directorate-General Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) through the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA). The process of developing and piloting the questionnaire was undertaken by ADAPT, which is a network of 120 experts on migrant health working in 30 countries. Data collection was organised by the IOM. Most of the experts and peer reviewers responsible for completing the Health strand questionnaire were members of ADAPT, while the rest were recruited from or through MPG’s network of integration policy experts. Scientific coordination was provided by Prof. David Ingleby of the University of Amsterdam’s Centre for Social Science and Global Health. Towards the end of 2015, detailed Country Reports on the European countries covered by MIPEX will be published by the IOM as part of its ‘Equi-Health’ project.


New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!