Work packages and sub-projects

Figure 1 (Click to enlarge image)

FLOW has three interdisciplinary work packages, which address sub-issues 1, 2 and 3 (see figure 1).

The internal interdisciplinarity of the Work Packages is ensured through the composition of individuals, theoretical approaches and empirical material; the latter varies from satellite photos, macro-economic key figures, policy reports, surveys, including vignet studied, to in-depth qualitative interviews. Data is collected and stored in accordance with AAU’s ethical guidelines. Each Work Package is coordinated by one member of the management group. FLOW also seeks to ensure extensive exchange of ideas and results across the three Work Packages. This is accomplished by the
establishment of sub-projects whose sub-results are used across the Work Packages. This is quite simply achieved by placing postdocs and research assistants together physically, and by organising interdisciplinary seminars and joint book projects.

Work Package 1: Migration flows to Northern Europe

FLOW’s calculations of migration flows are based on fundamental “push-pull mechanisms”.

Project 1.1 collects climate scenarios, leading to scenarios for possible agricultural production in Europe (primarily Southern Europe), Africa and the Middle East. As mentioned above, it is generally agreed that food production and climate events will affect future migration flows. It is also agreed that economic inequality between countries of origin and host countries, internal economic inequality in countries of origin and host country and the presence of diasporas in the host country constitute structural conditions for migration flows (Castles, Haas & Miller 2014).

Project 1.2 describes the development in development levels, economic inequality between North European host countries and other countries, internal inequality in these countries and the size of the diasporas.

Finally, in project 1.3 FLOW contributes with new simulation models, which predict flows based on the modelling of migration conduct – under different conditions. The basis is Henning Sten Hansen’s LUCIA model, which simulates area use and demography and has been used in a number of EU projects, as well as Carsten Kessler’s collaboration with CIty University of New York on global climate changes and their effects on migration. Geographical research in the field is interested in flows, while their consequences for host countries are less well described. However, integrating estimates of migration flows with analyses of the consequences of immigration is obvious, as is integrating estimates of integration degree (a standard assumption is that integrated diasporas result in less “pull”) and majority population reaction patterns (a standard assumption that lacking integration results in an increase in popular demand for border protection) in simulation models.

Project 1.1 Analysis of future climate changes and migration flow consequences

According to the most recent main report from IPCC (2014), climate changes will create increasing challenges for both rural and urban environments – even though these will vary in nature. In rural areas, high temperatures in particular, combined with a decrease in rainfall, will constitute large challenges for the farming industry and in some cases render farming impossible. In the first instance, this will result in migration into the big cities. However, the cities will also be affected by global warming, and ‘urban heat islands’ will be created (de Sherbinin et al., 2007) in which long-term stays will be challenging. Moreover, rising sea levels and an increase in the frequency of tropical hurricanes will make life difficult in coastal areas (Piguet et al. 2011). Therefore, many people will choose to travel north towards Europe. FLOW will analyse the resulting migration flows by means of statistics and satellite photos as well as climate data in order to create a quantifiable relation between climate changes and migration flows. By Henning Sten Hansen, Carsten Kessler, postdoc 1 (nn).

Project 1.2. Description of development and income differences between North European host countries and countries of origin and the size of diasporas

Immigration and emigration are often assumed to be driven a basic differences in income. FLOW therefore describes the income gap between the North European countries and countries of origin. This is done by means of databases such as World Wealth and Income Database (, EU-SILK and a number of UN databases. Improvements of these databases enable descriptive statistics, which were not an option in previous research. Both the absolute welfare levels and their distribution in countries of origin may create further dynamics in migration flows. It is a standard hypothesis that an increase (in absolute terms) in welfare level from a lower previous level results in better opportunities of emigration (as emigration requires resources), and that greater inequality in the country of origin results in higher expectations, which also creates a “push”. Finally, it is a prevalent hypothesis that a positive feedback process exists, according to which the presence of diasporas in host countries creates “pull”. The Danish registry-based data provides unique opportunities to provide descriptive statistics on diasporadevelopment, but the project also describes the development in other North European countries. By Christian Albrekt Larsen and Kristian Kongshøj, research assistant (nn).

Project 1.3. Simulation of migration flows

Based on the results from 1.1 and 1.2, a complex simulation model is developed for migration flows from Africa and the Middle East to Northern Europe, in particular. The model will be agent-based, so that individual agents (represented by different groups of immigrants) may be associated with behaviour as in the real world. The model will be implemented by means of a cellular automata approach similar to Jones & O’Neill (2016). Individual simulations could potentially provide extreme and unrealistic results; therefore, we will use a Monte Carlo approach with for instance 100 simulations in order to create a basis for a statistical analysis of the results achieved. The simulation models will be qualified by human science and social science knowledge of different migration types and the effect of European and national regulation of borders and migration flows. After these have been established in the other Work Packages, a final version will be developed. By Henning Sten Hansen, Carsten Kessler, postdoc 1 (nn).

Work Package 2: The effect of immigration on North European welfare states

Increasing immigration affects the North European countries in many different ways, and it continues to be discussed by both political and academic environments whether a developed welfare state and a high level of immigration are combinable. The answer largely depends on the extent to which immigrants are integrated socioeconomically and socioculturally. The mapping of these context specific consequences of immigration is an extension of a number of projects in CoMID, CARMA, CCWS and CfU. Lacking socioeconomic integration in the labour market may cause immigration to become an economic burden for the welfare state, create social problems in immigration groups and antipathy p y against immigrants in the majority population. Taking registry-based data as a point of departure, one of the main results in the Danish research is that so-called “non-Western” immigrants are an economic burden, whereas “Western” immigrants are an economic advantage (Skaksen & Jensen 2016; Finansministeriet 2017). FLOW continues this tradition in project 2.1. Lacking sociocultural integration may create problems for immigrant groups, who feel that they are not accepted and integrated in the host countries, for the majority population, who may feel that their culture is being threatened, and for further immigration due to network effects. Project 2.2 identifies a number of indicators of sociocultural integration. The actual economic burden and sociocultural integration constitute a backdrop for societal discourses concerning the effects of immigration on the welfare state. Previous research demonstrates, however, that the discursive construction varies considerably across roughly homogeneous countries. Project 2.3 continues this tradition by a study cutting across Sweden and Denmark. Finally, analysing the political reaction of the North European majority populations to increasing immigration is essential. This is explored by means of existing survey data and new vignet studies in which case descriptions are linked to future scenarios established in Work Package 1.

Project 2.1. Estimation of economic costs/revenues from specific immigrant groups

The analyses are based on Danish registry-based data describing tax payments and welfare benefits of individuals, subject to different conditions as to the degree of labour market integration and amount of human capital. FLOW expands existing research by analysing historical experience of the cost pressure from the expected future migration types (cf. Work Package 1), and by estimating how improved results in labour market and education policies (cf. Work Package 3). In doing so, FLOW makes a unique future-oriented contribution to this research field. Christian Albrekt Larsen, Jørgen Goul Andersen and postdoc 2 (nn).

Project 2.2. Sociocultural integration among immigrant groups in Northern Europe

It is an ongoing discussion whether sociocultural integration is best supported by that which existing research describes as a multi-cultural approach (e.g. Sweden and the Netherlands) or an assimilation-oriented approach, as in for instance Denmark and Germany (Kymlicka, Banting 2006, Banting 2005). It has been difficult to analyse the general sociocultural integration of immigrants because this requires targeted surveys. Measurement of sociocultural integration is one of the strengths of FLOW, because the partners included have privileged access to already collected survey data, which can be linked to Danish registry-based data. On the basis of this unique data, a number of integrantion targets will be set up among ten specific immigrant groups residing in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark and five specific “non-Western” immigrant groups in Denmark, who are often assumed to be subject to a low degree of sociocultural integration. This will be combined with new qualitative life biographical interviews, providing humanistic individual-oriented insight into experiences of sociocultural integration in developed welfare states. Karen Nielsen Breidahl, Troels Fage Hedegaard, Trine Lund Thomsen, research assistant (nn)

Project 2.3. The discursive construction of the effects of immigration on the welfare states in Denmark and Sweden

During the past decade, immigration has played a central role in the debate concerning the welfare state. The balance between the desire to control and humanitarian obligations has affected the development of political designs. In this context, maintaining the universalistic principle embedded in the Nordic welfare state model is dependent on the way in which government policies and the allocation of public benefits/rights are developed within a hierarchical stratification system (Jørgensen & Thomsen 2013). The project explores how immigration and welfare state are perceived and discursively “framed” in different ways by key actors in Denmark and Sweden, respectively. A comparative study of Denmark and Sweden is essential, as these two countries, which share the same welfare model, have pursued very different policies. Immigration groups cover labour migrants and refugees, including climate refugees. The data material consists of policy narratives. The project creates a theoretical toolbox for new knowledge on inclusion and equality and contributes with a new model for qualitative consequence analysis. Trine Lund Thomsen, Martin Bak Jørgensen, postdoc 3 (nn).

Project 2.4. The majority population’s view on immigrant groups in developed welfare states

The North European majority populations’ reaction to increasing immigration is central, both to the design of the future welfare state and to the opportunities for socioeconomic and, in particular, sociocultural integration of the immigrants. Using existing surveys (European Social Survey and election surveys), FLOW will analyse how North European majority populations react to increasing immigration. FLOW will enable exploration of the connection between attitudes in the majority population, the actual economic pressure (2.1.), the actual sociocultural integration (2.2) and the discursive construction of the issue (2.3). Based on privileged access to existing quantitative as well as qualitative material, attitudes concerning the access of immigrants to a number of specific welfare benefits in Denmark, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands will also be explored. These analyses are expanded by new Danish vignet studies measuring the majority population’s attitudes to specific situations in which the reasons for migration are explained by the climate problems and socioeconomic differences identified in Work Package 1. Christian Albrekt Larsen, Troels Fage Hedegaard, Jørgen Goul Andersen, research assistant (nn).

Work Package 3: Integration through North European labour market and education policies

One of the main challenges of the North European countries is that relatively high wage levels complicate the integration of low-productivity immigrants in the labour market. At the same time, the monitoring and regulation of the labour market make it difficult for immigrants to find illegal work. However, the North European countries also have a large state capacity for implementing integration policies. This provides unique opportunities to facilitate both socioeconomic and sociocultural integration. FLOW contributes to the existing research through comparative studies of how North European countries have been trying to improve integration by adopting different labour market and education policies. This situation of relatively uniform countries with similar problems acting in different ways provides good opportunities to identify successful and less successful policies (the so-called most-similar-case-design). The comparative analyses are supplemented with in-depth case studies of the Danish case.

Project 3.1 Labour market integration with a particular emphasis on the matching of refugees with employers

The group of asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status has been the most difficult group to integrate in the labour market (Schultz-Nielsen, 2016; Danish Economic Councils, 2016). The project finds inspiration for more efficient labour market integration by comparing experience from the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. This takes place through desk research of policy documents, research literature and evaluations as well as through interviews with selected experts and decision makers. Moreover, an empirical analysis of the new Danish labour market integration programs and their ability to match refugees and employers is carried out. The literature suggests that labour market integration programs in local workplaces combined with early intensive language courses may improve the employment prospects of refugees (Arendt et al 2016; Ekspertgruppen, 2016). The project includes quantitative and qualitative studies of how and under which circumstances better matches between refugees and employers may be created. A qualitative survey will be conducted, which will identify the attitudes and behaviour of employers in relation to different groups of immigrant; this will be combined with interviews with refugees regarding their experiences of labour market integration. Thus, the project will map the existing labour market oriented integration efforts and explore opportunities for improvement. Thomas Bredgaard, Trine Lund Thomsen and postdoc 4 (nn).

Project 3.2. Educational integration with a special focus on expected future groups

Due to the relatively high wage levels in North European countries, it is essential to make use of and expand the human capital through education (cf. Schultz-Nielsen & Skaksen, 2017). Previous Danish analyses point out that so-called “non-Western” immigrants, men in particular, find it difficult to acquire qualifying vocational training, despite the keen focus on education and training in immigrant groups and a high economic return on (Danish) education (Forskningsenhed, Skaksen & Jensen 2016). A number of studies also suggest that this issue is already detectable in elementary school (Buchardt 2016, 2017). At the same time, knowledge is lacking of the policy development and policy implementation regarding the transition between elementary school and further education for immigrants and their children. FLOW contributes with insight into the methods applied in the other North European countries to manage their education efforts directed towards migrants and their children, with a special focus on labour market preparation. Then follow analyses of the success rates of different types of migrant groups as regards their integration in the labour market in an actor perspective. Elements in the analyses are 1) life historical interviews with selected migrant groups, outlining their experience with the Danish educational system from 1970 and onwards (cf. Buchardt 2016, 2017) and 2) registry-based data studies of the participation of migrant groups in the educational system, and their employment rate. The sub-project provides new knowledge of the effects of the integration efforts of the educational system as regards preparation for the labour market with a view to new improved action. By Mette Buchardt and postdoc 5 Jin Hui Li.