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New report: Better research cooperation can aid integration and migration in the Nordic countries

“Research can help to solve recently intensified migration-related challenges by distributing sound, evidence-based information,” says Dr Niko Pyrhönen, one of the authors of the new NordForsk policy paper "Nordic migration and integration research: Overview and future prospects."

Together with his colleague Dr Johanna Leinonen, and overseen by the director of the Migration Institute of Finland, Dr Tuomas Martikainen, Dr Pyrhönen has mapped the current Nordic migration and integration research landscape. The report is a response to a request from the Nordic Council of Ministers to draw up an overview of existing knowledge in the field.

“In the Nordic countries, we have a unique setting for comparative research designs,” Pyrhönen continues. “With proper and longstanding institutional support, this research can bring about added value that resonates and inspires far beyond the Nordic context itself.”

Enthusiastic community
As part of the preparation for the report, Dr Pyrhönen and Dr Leinonen have interviewed 56 Nordic experts on integration and migration research. This, along with an online survey, is the basis for the report’s overview of gaps in the current research field.

“It has surprised me how enthusiastic the Nordic research community is to receive more ambitious research calls that explicitly request more demanding components,” says Dr Pyrhönen. Such components could be stakeholder involvement, experimental methodology, institutionalised Nordic collaboration and nesting of qualitative and quantitative approaches in single work packages.

“Instead of regarding such requirements as burdensome, there was consensus that challenging research design in fact encourages the community to further develop and step off the beaten path,” concludes Dr Pyrhönen.

Download the report "Nordic migration and integration research: Overview and future prospects."

Read interview with Dr Tuomas Martikainen: "Migration is this century's most important issue"

Summary of report conclusions
Excellent census and register data make the Nordic countries an ideal setting for measuring empirically the impact of various policy tools in the daily lives of both migrant and majority populations.

However, in order to obtain Nordic added value within future migration and integration research, there is a number of hurdles to be crossed:

Nordic collaboration in the field tends to take the form of relatively short-lived, ephemeral networks and informal contacts.

Much of the core research is conducted in projects that involve little or no institutionalised established collaboration.

There is limited funding available for joint projects that involve two or more Nordic countries.
Funding for longitudinal and life-course research projects is limited.
To further develop Nordic integration and migration research, there is a need to:

  • embed Nordic networks into European and international ones, and to use extra-Nordic countries as points of contrast;
  • harmonize data between the five Nordic countries;
  • nest qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to develop more policy-relevant research;
  • develop more fine-grained analyses informed by qualitative approaches;
  • study minorities and the autochthonous population side by side, and search for new benchmarks for integration success and failure;
  • develop new methodological approaches, especially relating to big data.