The focus of the research in Austria is on four localities – a small and a medium sized-town and two municipalities in rural areas located in the provinces of Tyrol and Lower Austria, respectively. While receiving fewer asylum seekers than the capital region of Vienna both provinces accommodated significant numbers of displaced persons in the framework of Austria’s dispersal policies.
The province of Tyrol, located in the West, is the third largest province of Austria with 751,000 inhabitants and an area of 12,648 km², bordering Germany in the North, Italy and Switzerland in the South and Southwest. Tyrol has a long history of migration and has also more recently received significant numbers of migrants reflected in the composition of the population: In early 2021, 19.2% of Tyrol’s population was born abroad of which some 60.3% come from EU and EFTA countries. Among third countries, Syria and Afghanistan are amongst the five most important countries of origin (after Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia), having been hardly present in the beginning of the millennium. Tyrol is an economically strong province, although it was recently hard hit by the Pandemic and its impact on tourism.
Lower Austria (East)
Located in the North-East, Lower Austria is the second largest province in Austria with 1.69 million inhabitants and the largest province in terms of area with 19,179.56 km². It surrounds the federal capital Vienna and has international borders with the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the North and Northeast, respectively. Lower Austria has a long history of migration, especially the regions South of the capital and those west of it. At the same time, there are large relatively sparsely populated rural regions with limited migration. As a result, the share of the foreign born population of 13.2% is well below the national share of about 20%. In economic terms, Lower Austria’s profile is mixed. Our two case study locations both fare less well in economic terms, in particular compared to the municipalities in Tyrol.
Belgium is made up of three regions, namely Wallonia, Flanders, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Our focus is on the two largest regions of the country: Flanders and Wallonia. The reception centres for asylum seekers are more or less equally divided between these two regions. In September 2015, 49,9% of the asylum seekers that arrived in Belgium were hosted in Wallonia and 42.5% in Flanders. 7.6% of asylum seekers arriving in Belgium were hosted in the Brussels-Capital Region.
Wallonia (the Francophone region in Belgium) has a longstanding tradition of migrant settlement. Since the early 1900s cheap labour forces were attracted to work in the coal and metallurgy industries, which was the start of comprehensive labour migration to the region. With the rapid closing of these industries in the 1970s and ‘80s, the region has suffered impoverishment, which is still reflected in high unemployment rates. Since the increased influx of asylum seekers in 2014, Wallonia has hosted asylum seekers in its medium-sized cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. Wallonia is the more rural and less densely populated region of the country, which creates challenges as well as opportunities for the reception and integration of migrants.
Equally to Wallonia, Flanders (the Dutch-speaking region in Belgium) has known labour migration since the early 1900s. In the province of Limburg, migrants were primarily attracted to work in the coal industry, whilst in other parts of Flanders, migrants were employed in the construction and domestic sectors. Since the early 1990s, Flanders has known a strong politicization of immigration, reflected in the electoral success of the Flemish nationalist and radical right party Vlaams Blok. This politicization of the migration debate has created a more rigorous and institutionalized integration trajectory but also more restrictive political positions on migration. Asylum seekers arriving in the region since 2014 have been hosted in smaller towns as well as in and around medium-sized and large cities.
Ontario is the most populous province in Canada (14.8 million, accounting for 38.7% of Canada’s total population), and it attracts the highest number of the immigrants. In 2019/2020, 44.7% of all immigrants to Canada settled in Ontario, a level similar to what was observed in 2018/2019. In 2021, this number reached 107,865 immigrants. During the period of 2015 – 2020, Ontario received the highest number of the total resettled refugees admitted to Canada (40%). In 2019, the number of protected persons and refugees admitted to Ontario (25,546) was more than 52.6% of the national total.
Québec is Canada’s second-most populous province (8.6 million, 22.5% of Canada’s population). In 2019, it was the fourth largest receiver of permanent migrants (11.9%). In 2021, this total reached 33,665 immigrants. Québec possesses a unique migration policy relative to other Canadian provinces. It accounts for the majority of francophone migration to Canada. Québec received the second highest number of resettled refugees admitted to Canada (18.3%) with more than 31,500 refugees during 2015 – 2020. In 2019, Québec received around 15% of the total protected persons including asylum seekers and resettled refugees admitted to Canada.
British Columbia (West)
British Columbia is the third-most populous province in Canada (5.15 million, 11.4% of the national population) and second receiver of international immigrants with 15% of the national total. During 2021, the total number of immigrants to British Columbia was 34,385. British Columbia received the third highest number of resettled refugees in Canada during the period from 2015 and 2020 (8.4%) with a total of 14,580 refugees. In 2019, British Columbia received more than 7.6% of the total protected persons and resettled refugees admitted to Canada.
The case study in this Region is surrounded by other small and medium-sized towns, offering a network of economic and social anchor points within the larger region. The economic situation of the location is advantageous with an unemployment level of only 2.3% which is significantly lower compared to the rest of the country. Although the region of North-Rhine-Westfalia has a long history of migrants, notably guest workers from Turkey, Greece, Italy and former Yugoslavia, the case study‘s share of foreign residents before 2014 was only 5 % which is significantly lower than West German average (approx. 9%).
The small town case study in the eastern part of Saxony is located in proximity to the city of Dresden. The region’s population development is stable, observing modest growth of 1.8% within the last five years. The share of unemployed inhabitants decreased from 16% in 2005 to approximately 7 % in 2014 pointing to positive developments on the region’s labour market. The case study had only little experience with cultural diversity before 2014, as the share of foreign residents was only 1.6% in 2005.
Lower Saxony (West)
Two localities have been chosen as case study in Lower Saxony.
The first case study is located in a sparsely populated rural area in Lower-Saxony (West-Germany) with a population density of only 40/km². Before 2014, the share of foreign residents was 2.5%, which is significantly lower compared to other municipalities in Germany. Despite little experience with diversity, the case study region experienced medial attention as a kind of best-practice region of welcoming reception of migrants in Germany. Recently, urban elites are moving to the region due to modest distances to the cities of Berlin and Hamburg, making the case study a place to observe encounters between rural locals, urban lifestyle and post-2014 migrants.
The second case study takes place in a widespread town in the region of Lower-Saxony (West-Germany) covering an area of over 220 km² and incorporating seven smaller towns and 31 villages. The case study region’s unemployment rate of approx. 9% is higher that the West German average. The economic situation of the municipality is rather tense. Since the 1960ies, so-called „guest-workers“ from Turkey, Greece, Italy and former Yugoslavia moved to the location, resulting in local experience with social and cultural diversity. Existing migrant communities made the case study an attractive anchor point for post-2014 migrants. This case study region thus allows to observe how arrival and belonging are negotiated between long-established migrants, inhabitants without migration experiences and post-2014 migrants.
Saxony-Anhalt is characterized by the demographic processes of population ageing and shrinkage, resulting in a loss of over 10 000 inhabitants in the last 15 years. Before 2014, the case study region had only little experience with cultural diversity except for the presence of foreign workers from socialist countries such as Vietnam, Cuba or Mozambique in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) that was strictly politically regulated. Today, migrants, especially refugees, tend to remain only for a limited time in the case study region, leaving subsequently to bigger cities with migrant communities. This renders the case study a suitable example to explore secondary migration in Germany.
While the economic situation was harsh in the early 2000s with an unemployment rate of over 21% in 2005, the situation has improved and the share of unemployed inhabitants decreased to approximately 10% in 2014. Also, the population is considerably growing with an increase of over 11 000 inhabitants from 2000 to 2019. The share of foreign residents before 2014 was with almost 4% higher than the East German average.
Piedmont is a region with a longstanding tradition of migrants’ settlement from the South of Italy (1960-1970) and, more recently, from other EU and non-EU countries. In 2014, asylum seekers and international protection holders in reception centers were 5% (3.125) of the total, while the same figure at the end of 2020 was 9% (7.275). Newly arrived migrants have been hosted throughout the region in different types of localities, including mountain and rural areas, and mid-sized cities, with a high share of foreign residents in small municipalities. Importantly, Piedmont is the region with the largest number of small municipalities in Italy (1,047 or 18,96% of the total).
In 2014, Sicily was one of the top three regions in Italy by number of asylum applications and hosted 22% (14.769) of asylum seekers and international protection holders. At the end of 2020, Sicily was still one the regions with the highest numbers of asylum seekers and international protection holders housed in reception facilities, accounting for 8,1% (6.480) of the total. In the last ten years, the presence of foreign residents has significantly increased in internal areas, i.e. in municipalities facing depopulation and with less access to basic public services.
La solitudine dei comuni minori di fronte alle sfide del dopo-accoglienza dei rifugiati. La mancanza di strategie per l’integrazione dei rifugiati fuori dalle grandi città – approfondimento di Irene Ponzo
The Netherlands has twelve provinces. The four selected communities are distributed across four provinces, namely Zuid-Holland and Utrecht in the West of the Netherlands and Overijssel and Drenthe in the East and the North of the country, respectively. Asylum seekers have been hosted throughout the country in reception centers in different types of localities, including rural areas, mid-sized towns, and big cities, with a higher share of reception facilities in the Eastern and Northern part of the Netherlands and in small(er) municipalities. All four provinces have accommodated asylum seekers as well as international protection holders, although the numbers differ significantly over time and across provinces.
Zuid-Holland and Utrecht (West)
Zuid-Holland and Utrecht are part of the ‘Randstad’, a densely populated metropolitan region, including the biggest industrial cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. With its high demand for labor and direct access to the sea, the region has since long attracted migrants from different parts of the world. Over the past twenty years, the population of the two Western provinces has become increasingly more diverse: Zuid-Holland experienced an increase from 23% in 2000 to more than 33% in 2021, while the numbers in the province Utrecht (23,8% in 2021) are comparable to the national average of 24,6%.
Zuid-Holland, the biggest and most densely populated province in the sample with 3.7 Mio residents, had to accommodate 6.138 international protection holders in 2015 and 2.527 in 2020. The highly urbanized province Utrecht with its 1.36 Mio residents was asked to accommodate 2.159 international protection holders in 2015 and 934 in 2020.
Drenthe (East/North) and Overijssel (East)
The North and the East of the Netherlands are less densely populated and both regions have a considerably lower number of residents with a ‘migration background’. In Drenthe, the number of residents with a ‘migration background’ has slightly increased from 8 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2021; Overijssel has experienced an increase from 12,8 percent to more than 16 percent, of which 9 percent account for migrants from ‘non-Western countries’ (compared to 4,8 percent in Drenthe).
The less densely populated and most rural province Drenthe with 494.000 residents had to accommodate 840 international protection holders in 2015 and 343 in 2020. Overijssel with ca. 1.17 Mio residents was asked to accommodate 1.958 international protection holders in 2015 and 803 in 2020. In total, the four provinces accommodated around 38 percent of the total number of international protection holders in both 2015 and 2020.
Lower Silesia (East)
Two localities were chosen as case study in the Lower Silesian region.
The first is a city in the southwest of Poland with over 50 thousand inhabitants with an interesting history of hosting several nationals in its terrain; from the 13th century Jewish populations lived in the region. It was ruled by different authorities and administrations at different periods of time. It exchanged Polish, Czech, German and Russian hands. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Polish city experienced waves of immigration from the Polish Eastern regions. Therefore, historically, the city has undergone a lot of political changes and received a large population from internal migration. It is an industrial location with foreign labour and most importantly with inflows of seasonal migrants. During the first waves of the COVID-19 in 2020, the employers of temporary migrants coming from Georgia, Ukraine and Russia disrupted their contracts, leaving them literally stranded and homeless in the city. The mayor took the initiative to offer them legal advice, translators, and temporary houses, which shows that the city is taking local initiatives concerning migration policies and practices.
The second location in Lower Silesian region is a town located in southwest Poland with 15 thousand inhabitants. The town is intriguing as it was an industrial centre during the Soviet Union, however, like a lot of other towns in Poland, it was abandoned as all the mining projects were nationalised during the Soviet times and with the administrative changes, they became redundant and run-down properties. It is of particular importance as it represents well a set of vibrant towns, which were left with the vestiges of Communism. The town endeavoured to boost its economic development by modernising and using its factories, which welcomed low-skilled migrants.
Greater Poland (West)
Also in the Greater Poland two localities were chosen as case-study: one city with over 70 thousand inhabitants and a town with around 30 thousand inhabitants.
The city has industrial development, and the surrounding area has an active agricultural community. Therefore, foreign seasonal labour is needed in the region for the agriculture and longer stays for the factory workers. The inhabitant trends from 2016-2020, show that the city is constantly losing population with a high emigration rate. The city has mostly Ukrainian and Russian migrants. However, according to the Office of Wielkopolska Province, foreigners’ department the work permits are increasing in the year of 2022.
The town in west-central Poland has shown in the past years an increase in population due to initiatives to increase the living and working standards of its community. The town is functioning more as a place for labour migrants to live there rather than commute to, as they mostly travel to neighbouring cities for work.
The six Spanish cases are distributed across four of the country´s 17 regions, called “comunidades autónomas”. Three of them – Catalonia, Valencia, and Andalusia – are among the top-5 regions in terms of the numbers of asylum seekers received since 2014. In Spain as a whole, and in contrast to most other European countries, these numbers only started to rise in 2017 and peaked 2019.
Catalonia received the second-highest number of asylum applications (after the Metropolitan Region Madrid), especially during 2018 and 2019, with most applicants coming from Latin American countries (particularly Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras). Catalonia has traditionally been among the Spanish regions with the highest share of foreign population, significantly higher than the national average. Among the selected regions, Catalonia is the most densely populated, with the highest GDP per capita and the lowest unemployment rate.
Also in Valencia, the share of foreign residents lies significantly above the national average, and the region has received significant numbers of asylum seekers since 2018. In contrast to all other regions, this number has continued to grow in the year 2020. Also here, the major countries of origin were Venezuela and Colombia, followed by Ukraine. Like in Catalonia, the great majority of the population lives in medium and large cities mostly in coastal areas, while its interior parts suffer from depopulation.
In contrast to Catalonia and Valencia, the share of foreign residents in Andalusia lies below the national average, even though over the last couple of years the region received relatively high numbers of asylum seekers. It is also, and by far, the region that has been hardest hit by the economic crisis from which it is recovering only very slowly. Until today it is the Spanish region with the highest unemployment rate (it never fell below 20%) and the lowest GDP per capita. The region´s economy is also characterised by its strong reliance on tourism and the important role of the primary sector, which generates around six per cent of regional GDP and employs more than eight per cent of the population.
Castile and León (North-West)
Castile and Leon is part of what is sometimes called “Spanish Lapland” due to its very low population density (average 25 inhabitants per km2). Depopulation is a widespread problem – especially in rural areas and small towns with limited access to major transport networks – and the region as a whole has received relatively little immigration and low numbers of asylum applicants over the last years. As a result, the share of foreign residents remains significantly below the national average. Compared to Valencia, the region has a higher unemployment rate but also a higher GDP per capita, indicating greater efficiency of its productive sectors, including agriculture.
Due to the refugee settlement policy in Sweden, the numbers of persons granted international protection is similar across the country. Since 1985, there has been a policy to include all municipalities in the refugee settlement. New laws have been implemented in 2014 (Bill 2012/13:162) and in 2016 (Bill 2015/16:54) to ‘‘spread the burden’’ and increase the country’s settlement capacity. The laws force municipalities to settle a designated number of unaccompanied minors and newly arrived refugees with residence permits.
As a result of these policies, almost all municipalities in Sweden have now a long history of receiving persons granted international protection and there are organized introduction programs in all municipalities. Thus, there are no municipalities without previous experiences with migrants. This doesn´t mean that the experiences of integration are the same everywhere. Differences in access to housing and employment opportunities, for example, can be substantial.
In English Scania, Skåne is the southernmost province of Sweden with 33 municipalities. The province is often considered part of the metropolitan area of Copenhagen (or the Øresund Region), a region of four million inhabitants. The largest town, Malmö, is connected to Copenhagen in Denmark by the Øresund bridge.
Blekinge is located northeast of Scania and is the second smallest province in Sweden.
Jönköping is the center of the so-called bible belt, where people are typically more religious and free churches are as popular or more than the Church of Sweden.
Gävleborgs län (North)
Gävleborg borders the Baltic Sea. The economic activity of this province has traditionally been based on manufacturing (steel industry) and forestry, including the production of wood products and paper.
Dalarna is the province most often associated with Swedish traditions and folk history, and it played an important role in the Swedish nation building process. The northern part of Dalarna lies within the Scandinavian mountain range, while the southern part consists of plains and a traditional mining district.
Turkey is divided into 81 provinces, which are grouped into 12 statistical regions based on population, geography, regional development plans, main statistical indicators and socio-economic development ranking of provinces.
Eastern Marmara (North)
Located in the North-western part of Turkey, the East Marmara Region has a population of over 8 million inhabitants, corresponding to almost 10% of the entire population. Of its 8 provinces, half have a population ranging from 900.000 to 3 million, the other half from 200.000 and 400.000.
The region is located between Turkey’s two most populated provinces, Istanbul and Ankara, and has been a dynamic region with its relatively vibrant economy. The East Marmara region is one of the wealthiest regions in Turkey, yet diversity in economic activities from manufacturing industry to agricultural production and tourism causes certain economic disparities among the provinces in the region. The region hosts around 425.000 foreigners which corresponds to over 5% of the region’s population, just below the 6% national average. From the late 19th century onwards, the region has been hosting many migrants and refugees arriving from former Ottoman territories in the Balkans and Caucasus, and has also attracted internal migrants arriving from Northern and Eastern regions of the country since the mid-20th century.
Central Anatolia (Inland)
Considered as the heartlands of Turkey, the Central Anatolia Region has a population of over 4 million, making up 4.9% of the entire national population. The region is the fourth least populated one among the 12 statistical regions of Turkey. Of its 8 provinces, only one has a population close to 1.5 million, with the remaining ranging between 200.000 and 500.000. Although the pace of rural-urban internal migration has relatively slowed down, the region continues to observe both rural-urban and inter-urban migration for economic and educational purposes. Services, construction and agricultural sectors are among the leading economic activities in the region, while the industrial sector is concentrated mainly in the Kayseri province, the only metropolitan area in the region. The Central Anatolian region is home to almost 170.000 migrants and refugees, making up 4% of the region’s population, just below the national average. Migration of Syrian refugees to this region after 2015 has compensated for the population decline observed in several of the provinces in the region over recent decades.
Located along Turkey’s southern coastline, the Mediterranean Region covers a large geographic area with a population of close to 11 million, corresponding to 11.7 % of the entire population. The region has 8 provinces, 5 having a population between 1 to 2.5 million. The region’s provinces are diverse in socio-economic development levels and the average annual equivalised household disposable income is the fourth lowest within the 12 regions. The services, agriculture and industry are respectively the main economic sectors. There are three free trade zones that make the region a dynamic hub for export. The region hosts a large number of seasonal internal and international migrants working in agriculture and construction. Also, the region hosts 1.26 million migrants and refugees, making up 12.9% of the region’s entire population, just over two times the national average. At the regional level, it hosts the second largest number of Syrians after the Southeast Anatolia region, bordering Syria.