21 Feb 2017

Gender Inequality and Integration of Non-EU Migrants in the EU

Mikkel Barslund / Anna Di Bartolomeo / Lars Ludolph

Download Publication


The integration of refugees and migrants in general into the labour market – and into society at large –stands at the forefront of current policy debate. And rightly so: better integration enriches not only the migrant, but also the host country’s population and its public finances.

A number of recent noteworthy publications have therefore studied the labour market integration process and how to improve it. While the diverse background of new arrivals is often acknowledged in these studies, on-the-ground labour market integration programmes too often follow a one-size-fits-all approach. In this Policy Insights study, we argue that there is a particularly strong case for labour market integration measures specifically geared towards female migrants. The primary reason is the traditionally low female labour market participation in the majority of source countries, which translates into a large excess gender gap in labour market integration among non-EU migrants in Europe. This gap is further mirrored by other important aspects of societal integration. We argue that this lack of labour market integration inhibits wider societal integration of female migrants.

Hence, integration efforts need to more explicitly take the gender dimension into account and further analyse the determinants of the gender gap in integration. A mapping of successful initiatives targeting migrant women, as has been done in recent best-practice guidelines, is therefore essential. However, these studies mainly stress that the number of targeted measures is currently insufficient.

Mikkel Barslund is a Research Fellow at CEPS; Anna Di Bartolomeo is a Research Fellow at EUI and Lars Ludolph is a Researcher at CEPS. Research for this paper was carried out in the context of the EuroMeSCo ENI project co-funded by the European Union and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed.) and the MEDAM project (Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration), which is funded by Stiftung Mercator. CEPS participates as a partner institute in the MEDAM project along with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) and the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence.