The Social Assimilation of Immigrants

The aim of this paper on the social assimilation of immigrants is to take a close look at migrants' social integration into the host country. The authors rely on the European Community Household panel (ECHP), which devotes a full module to the role and relevance of social relations for both migrants and natives. An innovative feature of this analysis is that it relies on migrants perceptions about their integration rather than - as is typically the case in most opinion surveys - on natives attitudes toward migrants. The main results of the paper can be summarized as follows. First, migrants - particularly from non-EU origins - are at a disadvantage in the fields of social relations. Even after controlling for their individual characteristics, such as age, education, family size, and employment status, they tend to socialize less than natives. Second, migrants tend to converge, albeit quite slowly, to the standard of natives. This finding highlights the risks of short term migration, where migrants tend to be constantly marginalized. Third, education has a significant impact on the type of social activities that individuals undertake. More educated people tend to relate somewhat less with their close neighborhood, but quite intensively with the broader community. The implication for policy makers concerned about the creation of ethnic enclaves is to promote education among immigrants' community.