Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives


France is in the midst of reforming its immigrant integration policies, which are directed at new arrivals of immigrants to the country. In addition, the government is making new investments into targeted neighbourhood and workforce programmes that could have a significant, though indirect, benefit for the French population of immigrant background. This is a more significant development than it first appears.

A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, authored by political scientist Angéline Escafré-Dublet, highlights that the task of reaching immigrants and their descendants with integration and other programming is complicated by French policy and history. The French population is recorded in the census solely by nationality, and public collection of data according to ethnicity is prohibited; with most children of immigrants born in France holding French citizenship, 'immigrant youth' are thus concealed from analysis, and it is often difficult to identify both positive and negative socioeconomic outcomes. Moreover, there is a general distrust of policies that target a particular group over others—a distrust that originates from the republican principle of equal treatment regardless of origin, religion, or race.

The report, Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives, examines education, employment, and social inclusion programmes that support the integration of immigrants and their descendants. Based on interviews with officials and experts across France and a review of the current literature, this report finds that, aside from targeted integration policies aimed at newcomers, policies to support integration have essentially been 'mainstreamed' by the government, and embedded into needs-based social programming and policies that address the overall population. This approach has been further bolstered under the Hollande administration, with a series of interventions, including a 5 billion euro investment into neighbourhoods where social disadvantage is significant.

This report, supported by a research grant from the Dutch Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment, is part of a comparative research project conducted in collaboration with the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford and Erasmus University in Rotterdam. It follows the publication of recent case studies of the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as an overview report offering principles of good practice in the design of mainstreaming strategies and initiatives. The project's final case study, focused on Denmark, will be released in the coming days. We invite you to read these papers and other MPI Europe research.


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