Low Level of Immigrant Integration Highlighted

Ruadhan MacCormaic, Irish Times (Dublin), May 29, 2008

Just 12 per cent of Chinese immigrants, and 22 per cent of Lithuanians, are ‘highly integrated’ into Irish society, according to a major study by researchers at UCD.

The report, Getting On, assessed the experience of four migrant groups—Nigerians, Chinese, Indians and Lithuanians—across a selection of political, economic and social indicators.

It found that more than 90 per cent of Indian respondents and over 70 per cent of Nigerians indicated medium to high levels of integration. However, half of Chinese respondents showed low or very low integration levels, while almost 40 per cent of Lithuanians were placed in the same category.

The research identified a person’s immigration status as one of the key determinants of integration. Although Chinese respondents had very low rates of involvement in trade unions, the figures for all other groups were higher: 7 per cent of Indians, 8 per cent of Lithuanians and 25 per cent of Nigerians.

There were noticeable differences in employment rates, with Lithuanian and Indian respondents having significantly higher levels than those from the other groups.

The report was commissioned by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and carried out by 12 researchers at UCD.

It found that while Indians worked in similar occupations in Ireland as in their home country, there was evidence of ‘de-skilling’ across all four groups.

This was most apparent for Nigerians, who experienced a significant change from managerial, business and government occupations to services and childcare.

Despite this, however, a significant majority in each group believed its financial situation had improved since coming to Ireland.

Chinese nationals were least convinced of a positive change, and this group also reported the lowest levels of income, with 59 per cent earning an average annual income of less than EUR 14,400. That may be connected to their status, since student visa holders may only legally work for 20 hours a week.

Indian respondents had the highest incomes, with 67 per cent reporting an average annual income of greater than EUR 31,720.

Respondents highlighted young people as a source of anti-immigrant sentiment, with some interviewees reporting that young people had thrown stones or eggs at them. Others had friends who had been physically assaulted.

Overall, the report finds a clear desire—if not the opportunity—among migrants for social interaction with fellow residents.

The immigrant council makes 27 detailed recommendations in the report, including in areas such as family reunification, naturalisation procedures and English language training.

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