Denmark: Migrant integration is not working for Middle Easterners

The integration of non-Western immigrants is lower in Denmark than in many countries. Therefore, we can learn from them. When we are talking about a major social problem, there must be new initiatives.

You would think that the integration of immigrants and their descendants from non-Western countries would eventually evolve better and better. This is not so. The overall picture is that we still have major problems with integration, and that in recent years things have gone from bad to worse with employment and crime.

Non-Western countries are very different in terms of culture, religion and history. There is a big difference in how well integration works with different countries. The integration of immigrants and descendants from countries in East Asia is clearly better than the countries in and around the Middle East.

Statistics Denmark documents this, annually publishing “Immigrants in Denmark.” The latest data from the end of 2013 and the previous editions contains a wealth of information about immigrants and their descendants with respect to employment, education, public benefits and crime.

[Note that things are getting worse from 2007 to 2012 for the Muslim countries in particular)

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Employment is crucial

It is crucial for the integration of immigrants that they are employed. This means that they can be self-supporting, rather than being on public benefits and thus a financial burden. In the big picture anything that leads to employment contributes to solving the welfare state financing problem.

The employment rate for immigrants from non-Western countries was 47% in 2013. Employment rate is the proportion of 16-64-year olds who are employees or self-employed, or whose spouse is. So slightly less than half of the immigrants from non-Western countries of working age are employed.

For persons of Danish origin, employment was 73%. Immigrants from western countries had an employment rate of 59%. Western countries are all EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Non-Western countries are all other countries.

East Asia is doing well

There is a marked difference in how well integrated immigrants from different countries on the labor market. The employment rate in 2013 for selected countries are:

Thailand: 63%
Vietnam: 61%
China: 56%
Turkey: 51%
Pakistan: 49%
Iraq: 34%
Lebanon: 32%
Somalia: 27%

Immigrants from countries in East Asia are much better integrated into the labor market than immigrants from countries in and around the Middle East. Particularly bad are immigrants from Somalia, Lebanon (mainly Palestinians) and Iraq, where only between one quarter and one third have jobs. The majority of these immigrants are receiving public benefits.

As a result of the economic crisis, employment has fallen by 6 percentage points for all non-Western immigrants from 2007 to 2013. It is the same case as for persons of Danish origin. The non-Western immigrants have thus failed to integrate well into the labor market during this period.

More frequent crime

Immigrants and their descendants from non-western countries commit far more common crime than persons of Danish origin. Here crime refers here to people aged 15-79 years have been convicted of an offence. Since the vast majority of offenses are committed by men, we will only discuss male crime.

Young people commit crime more often than other age groups. If you want to compare crime rates in populations of different origins, one must take into account that they may have a different age.  Statistics Denmark does this by a so-called age-standardization of a crime index, where 100 is the average of the male population.

The table shows the level of crime in 2007 and 2012 for immigrants and descendants from a number of countries compared with persons of Danish origin.  Two things stand out.  First, immigrants and their descendants from a countries in and around the Middle East have a very high crime rate. Second, immigrants and their descendants from countries in East Asia commit less crime than persons of Danish origin.

Changes are going in the wrong direction

Men originating in Lebanon commit crimes more than three times as often as men of Danish origin. Immigrants and their descendants from Somalia, Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq have a crime rate that is 2-2 ½ times the average.

Comparing crime rates in 2007 than 2012 shows, unfortunately, that the things are going in the wrong direction. Crime has increased among non-Western immigrants and their descendants. The various initiatives to improve integration have been useless when it comes to crime.

Western immigrants and their descendants have a crime rate that is lower than the crime rate in persons of Danish origin. Their crime rate is only two-thirds of the average level. Poles and Romanians who live in Denmark are also below average.  The statistics include the residents only and not the visitors from Eastern Europe and other countries, who come to commit burglary and other crimes.

Statistics Denmark has also standardizes the crime rate for socioeconomic status. This removes the differences between countries due to different social conditions. Victims of crime are not better off knowing whether the offender is unemployed, unskilled or self-employed.

The well-integrated

There are clearly many well-integrated immigrants and their descendants from non-Western countries. For some nationalities they are even the vast majority.

In education, there are some bright spots in the integration of non-Western immigrants. Let us look only at women. If we look at all 30-year-old in 2013, 60% of the female descendants taken a vocational or higher education, but only 45% of the male descendants. The corresponding figures for persons of Danish origin are 79% and 72%.

In 2004 only 44% of the female descendants who had such training, so there really has been positive change. For the male descendants, there is only a minimal difference in the level of education in the two years (2004 and 2014).

An effective proposal is required

All in all, it is naive if anyone thinks that integration problems will solve themselves with time. Denmark is doing rather poorly in getting a large number of non-Western immigrants into  employment, and crime has changed only for the worse. The efforts to improve integration, as provided to date by society and by immigrants themselves, is very far from a success.

The integration of non-Western immigrants is lower in Denmark than in many countries. Therefore, we can learn from other countries. When we are talking about a major social problem, there must be new initiatives. The government should set up a commission or a committee of experts who can develop effective proposals to improve the integration, including by including experiences from other countries. (in Danish)

Note: edited Google translate.  h/t Nicolai Sennels