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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Diversity and inequality? : an analysis of multicultural policies and immigrant economic integration in Europe Picui, Isabella


Best practices regarding methods of immigrant integration remain inconclusive within the literature. Previous research has come to divergent conclusions regarding the role of multiculturalist policies on different types of integration; multiculturalism has been linked with increased sociopolitical integration, while other scholarship deemed multiculturalism detrimental to socioeconomic outcomes. None of this literature, however, examines the effects of these policies on strictly economic concerns and most are restricted to the comparative analysis of a small number of cases. This study attempts to fill this empirical gap by examining the relationship between multicultural policies and economic integration — specifically, are multicultural policies (as opposed to assimilation) effective or detrimental to the economic integration of immigrants in Western Europe? Further, this study seeks to determine the role of multicultural policies on immigrants from non-Western countries of origin, given multiculturalism’s commitment to affirming the cultural difference of immigrants and minorities. Do multicultural policies have a stronger positive effect on immigrants from non-Western countries as opposed to immigrants from within Europe or North America? Drawing on rounds 1 to 6 of the European Social Survey and the Multicultural Policy Index, this study uses regression analysis to assess economic integration outcomes over a ten-year period in 16 European countries. It operationalizes economic integration through dependent variables such as income decile, occupational status, and employment status. It finds that multiculturalism is associated with increases in economic integration. Furthermore, when immigrants are examined heterogeneously based on cultural difference, the results suggest multicultural policies have greater effects on those who display higher levels of cultural difference; namely, non-Western immigrants. Moreover, the multicultural policies of accommodation such as affirmative action and dress code exemptions are found to be linked with more pronounced economic integration outcomes for non-Western immigrants.

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