Immigrant integration is a central topic on the agenda, both for politicians and for the wider public. This special issue sheds light on the topic in a Danish context with the ambition of nuancing our understanding of the possibilities and challenges related to integration in different central areas of Danish society. This introduction to the special issue presents the concept of integration, gives an overview of the development of the European academic literature on the topic and discusses the conditions of integration in Denmark and in other European countries.
Denmark has some of the most restrictive citizenship rules in Europe, with requirements for long residence, language, knowledge, self-support and crime. Citizenship implies voting rights and the right to stand for election in national elections. As such it determines full democratic inclusion. Today, approximately 376,000 adult residents lack Danish citizenship. Using public registry data we investigate whether refugees who arrived as adults in 2001-09 have been able to fulfil the language, self-support and criminal record requirements. We investigate which requirements are most exclusionary, and what difference it makes if they were made less demanding. We further examine how many residents with Danish citizenship are able to meet these requirements. On this basis, we discuss their implications for Danish democracy, and whether they are consistent with normative conceptions of fairness.
Electoral turnout among non-western immigrants is substantially lower than among ethnic Danes. How much of the difference in turnout is simply due to different demographic compositions of the two groups? In the 2013 Danish municipal election, first-generation non-western immigrants voted 31 percentage points less than ethnic Danes, even when demographic composition is taken into consideration. Second-generation non-western immigrants voted 4 percentage points less than the first generation when demographic composition is not considered, but 7 percentage points more under control for the two groups’ different demographic composition. The gap in turnout between second-generation non-western immigrants and ethnic Danes shrinks when demographic composition is considered, but the group still lags 24 percentage points behind. Danish citizens turn out more than non-Danish citizens, but we do not find strong evidence of an effect of becoming a citizen when we try to identify the independent effect of this factor. The analysis indicates that the process up to becoming a citizen increases turnout at the municipal election, but that this effect disappears when citizenship is obtained. However, there is a need for more studies in the area.
To what extent do non-Western immigrants and their descendants support the core principles of the Danish welfare state, and do they support these values to the same extent as ethnic Danes? These questions are examined based on survey data collected in 2014 among the Danish population and the five largest non-Western immigrant groups and their descendants. The article finds that there is overall and strong support for selected core values among the majority in all three groups as regards support for the duty to work, gender equality, state-financed welfare and that the state should increase its efforts for the needy. Within this overall pattern, the results also point out some interesting differences and similarities between non-western immigrants on the one hand and ethnic Danes on the other.
Why is there a native-immigrant education gap in Denmark? And has the gap been reduced over time? This article adds to existing research by examining the explanations behind the existence of the education gap and the development in the gap across time. The education gap is examined by comparing upper secondary completion rates for children graduating from compulsory school between 1990 and 2007. The education production function is estimated as a linear probability model with OLS. The article finds that the gap has narrowed significantly over the past 20 years and that differences in family background explain a large part of the gap. Furthermore, a strong relation between the child’s age at arrival and educational performance is found.
Research on integration of immigrants and their children typically focuses on functional and objective measures, while the identificational dimension of integration is seldom examined. On the basis of in-depth interviews, I analyze how young second-generation immigrants of Middle Eastern descent perceive the boundary to the Danish nation, including the effect of these perceptions on their feelings of national belonging. The analysis shows that there is widespread consensus among the interviewees about the markers that exclude them from the Danish nation. However, the degree of belonging varies across interviewees (from secure identification to dis-identification); a variation that can be explained by how they perceive their own position in relation to the boundary.
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