Belgium has become an immigrant society.
First-generation migrants account for more than 15% of the Belgian work force and for over 50% of labour force growth. However, the socio-economic position of migrants in Belgium leaves much to be desired. Nowhere in the EU15 is the employment rate gap between migrants and natives as large. First-generation migrants’ poverty rates are of the worst in the EU15. In no other EU country are first-generation migrants so strongly overrepresented in minimum income protection schemes.
This is all the more striking since it stands in stark contrast with what policy is trying to achieve. At both the federal and the regional level a range of measures have been developed to improve the labour market position of people with a migration background, including civic integration programmes, active labour market policies, family policies and career and diversity plans. Clearly, these policies are not performing as expected, possibly because of contextual and institutional barriers.
Even though we know that the employment rate of people with a migration background is lagging, we know less about the causes behind it.
Research on the position of people with a migration background in Belgium is based almost exclusively on cross-sectional data. Their main drawback is the fact that they capture only a snapshot of the substantive process under study. To breach this gap, IMMILAB focuses on how the situation of people with a migration background on the Belgian labour market evolves over time through the use of longitudinal data.
Only then is it possible to develop apt policy measures addressing immigrant integration and, at the same time, to assess the already existing ones.
These are the questions that IMMILAB aims to answer.