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Pitfalls of immigrant inclusion into the European welfare state

Martin Kahanec (Department of Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, IZA – Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany and Central European Labor Studies Institute (CELSI), Bratislava, Slovakia)
Anna Myung‐Hee Kim (IZA – Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany)
Klaus F. Zimmermann (IZA – Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany and Bonn University, Bonn, Germany)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 22 March 2013




This paper's main purpose is to evaluate immigrants’ demand for social assistance and services and identify the key barriers to social and labor market inclusion of immigrants in the European Union.


An online primary survey of experts from NGOs and public organizations working on immigrant integration in the member states of the European Union was carried out. The data is analyzed using simple comparative statistical methods; the robustness of the results is tested by means of logit and ordered logit statistical models.


The authors find that the general public in Europe has rather negative attitudes towards immigrants. Although the business community views immigrants somewhat less negatively, barriers to immigrant labor market inclusion identified include language and human capital gaps, a lack of recognition of foreign qualifications, discrimination, non‐transparent labor markets and institutional barriers such as legal restrictions for foreign citizens. Exclusion from higher education, housing and the services of the financial sector aggravate these barriers. Changes in the areas of salaried employment, education, social insurance, mobility and attitudes are seen as desired by members of ethnic minorities. The current economic downturn is believed to have increased the importance of active inclusion policies, especially in the areas of employment and education. These results appear to be robust with respect to a number of characteristics of respondents and their organizations.

Research limitations/implications

The authors’ findings are not limited to the sample studied, which is supported by their robustness analysis. However an extended opinion survey of the ethnic minority population is required to more accurately examine the problems faced by diverse groups of immigrants across EU member states.

Practical implications

The findings of the study call for more effective diversity management and integration strategies to ensure non‐discrimination and better integration of ethnic minorities into the labor markets of member states.


There are few studies using primary survey data that have identified a wide range of barriers and challenges to economic integration faced by ethnic minorities in an enlarged European Union. The cross‐national opinion survey uniquely reflects views and suggestions of practitioners and immigrant minorities themselves.



Kahanec, M., Myung‐Hee Kim, A. and Zimmermann, K.F. (2013), "Pitfalls of immigrant inclusion into the European welfare state", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 39-55.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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