The aim of this PhD project is to achieve a deeper understanding of differences and similarities in the policies that have been introduced in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in order to integrate immigrants (particularly from non-western countries) on the labour market. The overriding research question is:  What explains differences and similarities in the labour market integration policies, which have been introduced in Sweden, Norway and Denmark?

Labour market integration policy (LMIP) refers to labour market-oriented integration policies/activities aimed (directly or indirectly) at settled immigrants in order to improve their participation on the labour market. Hence, LMIP does not refer to policies aimed at labour migrants who come to countries for temporal periods. It is difficult to provide an accurate definition of this policy field, among other things because LMIP is placed in a tension between integration policy on the one hand and general labour market policy on the other.

The point of departure is an identification of a number of key variations in the labour market integration policies (LMIP) in the three countries. In particular three remarkable differences stand out and are interesting in a welfare state perspective:

The first difference between Denmark, Norway and Sweden concerns the generosity of social assistance for immigrants. Hence, since 2002 Denmark has repeatedly reduced the benefit level provided for immigrants – which has not been the case in Norway in Sweden. First for newly arrived immigrants as a part of the introduction of the so-called “start help” or “introduction allowance”, and later by reducing social assistance in a number of situations, and in the form of requirements to couples receiving social assistance to work 300 (now 450) hours.

The second difference concerns the underlying principle behind the Introduction programmes for newly arrived immigrants, which has been introduced in all three countries. This program contains many initiatives, among other things language training, settlement-policies and labour market integration policies. I have chosen only to focus on the differences concerning the last mentioned.

Finally, the countries differ by the degree in which they have introduced labour market policies targeted specifically at immigrants, which refers to the tension between general versus targeted policy measures. Hence, in Denmark several labour market integration policies specifically targeted at immigrants have been introduced since the late 1990s, while it in Sweden has been a central political ambition since 1997 not to introduce targeted measures after the introduction period in order to avoid stigmatisation.

Effektiv start/slut dato15/04/200914/04/2012



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