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Indexul Integrării Imigranților în România 2017

Coșciug, Anatolie and Răcătău, Ionela and Bădescu, Gabriel and Burean, Toma and Găvruș, Georgiana and Greab, Carmen and Radu, Bogdan and Rus, Călin and Vornicu, Andreea (2018): Indexul Integrării Imigranților în România 2017. Published in: Romanian Center for Comparative Migration Studies (2018): pp. 1-214.

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Abstract

Last years brought about, again, the topic of migration to the mainstream Romanian media. The media rearticulated some themes that were already discussed and brought to the public attention in the past ten to fifteen years. When in 2002 Romanian citizens obtained visa-free agreement to the EU, the main theme was the large number of Romanians who have left the country. In 2007, when the country joined the EU as a member state, the discourse on migration was about anti-immigration debates in the Western Europe and the expulsion of Romanian citizens back to Romania. Today, the discourse revolves around the refugee crisis and the fact that Romania started to receive migrants and refugees, and that in the future it may host large amounts of Muslims. Most probably, this last topic will continue to stir up heated debates in the Romanian public space. According to various data, the number of international immigrants arriving in Romania is of about 370,000 people. This means that migrants make up about 2 % of the country’s population. Even though this number is not that high and it draws not much attention, it is still of utmost importance that Romania has started to develop migration policies and methods to measure migrants’ integration before facing large-scale migration. The current report and the index of migrants’ integration therein is such a measurement and it provides a general image of how migrants’ fare in Romania. It was constructed using other similar tools (MIPEX, Zaragoza indicators, and so on) and aims at adapting them to the Romanian context. It focuses on migration policy, labor market adaptation, and the relationship between migrants and the institutions dealing with immigrants’ integration. This synthetic data allows us to obtain a longitudinal image of immigrants’ integration, compare data from different regions and cities, as well as compare the Romanian data to the data from other older and newer countries of immigration. Such data on immigrants’ integration is not just needed for policy purposes, but for public debates also. Given that the Romanian public debates started to be shaped by populist stances and fears of refugees and “Muslim invasion”, or of “disappearing European culture”, analytic data is useful in countering such speculative claims. The analysis carried out in this report provides a different perspective in which immigrants, even though they arrived in the past years only, tend to integrate well in the Romanian society. On the other hand, one shall state the limits of this type of approach. The report does not focus on specific groups, or specific places; it only aims at providing a general image of immigrants’ integration in Romania, and more fine-grained analysis is needed for specific topics. And, in order to obtain such information, especially on immigrants’ integration difficulties, addtional qualitative and quantitative research is needed. The report offers, though some surprising data on immigration to Romania. We thus first noticed a high rate of employment among asylum seekers and third country nationals; and not only they are employed, but tend to fare better than the average Romanians. Given that the country has a huge number of unemployed and underemployed persons, this result came actually as a surprise. Looking at the data, though, we realized this is so due to the fact that migrants went to Romania’s major cities, such as Bucharest, Timişoara, Cluj, Constanţa, or Iași, were salaries are higher. In a country with stark inequalities, such as Romania, there is no wonder then, that a person in a large city has a better job than someone living in a small city in a disadvantaged region. And that migrants tend to integrate rapidly on the labor market is actually not a novelty in migration studies. A second surprising data is also related to Romania’s social and ethnic inequalities. The survey data revealed that immigrants are favorable to the Roma people and that the social distance between immigrants and the Roma is by far much smaller than between majority Romanians and the Roma. In itself this data does not allow us to speculate on the future interethnic relationships in the country, or if the racist attitudes will be countered by more tolerant ones, however we may hope to be so. Thus, the index we managed to build, the survey data and the interviews we carried out gatheres the first set of data in the field of immigrants’ integration in Romania; it may help policy makers to build informed policies about migration in Romania and it presents novel data that the Romanian public is not aware of. As a matter of fact, international migration, to which Romania has to adapt as a country of origin, will generate new challenges, this time as a country of transit and destination. In this vein, the present research is a first step in this process.

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