Nordic Integration and Settlement Policies for Refugees

A Comparative Analysis of Labour Market Integration Outcomes

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This report has been commissioned by the Labour Market Committee of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The chief aim is to provide policy-relevant knowledge by conducting a comparative analysis of refugee labour-market integration in Scandinavia. Instead of focusing on the well-known employment gap or the fiscal impact of refugee unemployment, this study investigates the divergent impacts of integration programmes and settlement policies for refugees from different backgrounds. Through longitudinal comparative analysis, this study examines the labour-market integration of refugees in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, searching for explanations of cross-national differences by combining statistical analyses with in-depth analyses of national policies and governance structures.



Analysis – differing refugee settlement models

The dispersal of refugees to different municipalities within a host country is one of the first policy decisions made during the settlement process. It is an important decision for maximizing integration and economic self-sufficiency, and as a first step toward more comprehensive integration into society (Bansak et al., 2018). Demark, Norway and Sweden have chosen alternative models of refugee settlement that differ on who decides where the refugee should settle: the central government, the municipalities or the refugees themselves. The Danish and Norwegian models both prioritize state/municipally steered settlement, but the Danish models distribute the refugees through central allocation, while the Norwegian model is based on voluntary municipal settlement agreements. The main principle in the Swedish model is individual autonomy. However, as not all refugees manage to find own housing, this model of free settlement in Sweden is combined with municipally assisted settlement through voluntary municipal settlement agreements. This chapter describes and discusses the dispersion of refugees across municipalities as they settle, the pattern of secondary movement in the following years, and the correlation between both initial and secondary settlement patterns and labour market integration outcomes. We define a “secondary movement” as occurring when the refugee changes residence from the initial municipality of residence to another municipality. At the end of this section we analyse predictors for refugee secondary movement. Who is most likely to move? How does secondary movement of refugees affect integration in the labour market and enrolment in education?


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