Frida Boräng explores the relationship between migration and the welfare state


National Institutions - International Migration Frida BorangNew from ECPR Press and Rowman & Littlefield International is Frida Boräng's National Institutions – International Migration: Labour Markets, Welfare States and Immigration Policy

All OECD countries admit entry to some immigrants and refuse entry to others. Policies and practices range from active invitation or legal admission to mere tolerance or outright rejection of the people that wish to enter these countries. Despite the fact that all countries accept some, but not all, potential immigrants, the variation when it comes to the admission of foreigners – or immigration policy – is considerable.  Not only does the overall scale of immigration vary considerably, but states also differ in the types of migrants they primarily accept: some states accept large numbers of labour migrants but small numbers of refugees, whereas the opposite is true for others.

Despite the fact that immigration policy is today one of the most salient political issues in the OECD countries, we know surprisingly little about the factors behind the very different choices countries have made over the last decades when it comes to immigrant admission. Why has the balance between inclusion and exclusion differed so much between countries and categories of migrants? National Institutions – International Migration provides the answer that this is, to an important extent, a result of how domestic labour market and welfare state institutions have approached the question of inclusion and exclusion, since immigration policy does not stand independent from these central policy areas.

By developing and testing two related arguments about immigrant admission – focusing on the characteristics of labour markets and welfare states respectively – this book offers a theoretically informed, and empirically rich, analysis of variation in immigration policy in the OECD countries from the 1980s to the 2000s.

Frida BorangIn the author's own words

'My book shows that countries with liberal labour markets have tended to take in more labour immigrants during the time period studied. It also shows that countries with generous welfare states have accepted more forced migrants – that is refugees and asylum seekers – during the same period. This finding is particularly interesting since it runs counter to much conventional wisdom in migration research, which often sees the relationship between the generous welfare state and migration as fraught with conflict.

When I started to work on this project I wanted to investigate not only how immigration has been related to the characteristics of labour markets and welfare states, but my aim was also to provide a broad overview of patterns of immigration to the OECD countries and the factors that have shaped them. I therefore took care to describe patterns of immigration to twenty countries over almost three decades using quantitative and qualitative data. I also made sure to include in the analysis various factors – from short-term economic to historical – that have been suggested in the literature as factors shaping immigration policy.

This is the kind of study that I was looking for myself when I started to work on migration, and I hope it will be useful to students and researchers of migration.'

Frida Boräng is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and Research Fellow at the Quality of Government Institute (QoG) at the University of Gothenburg

Keywords: Migration, Welfare State, Immigration

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