Diversity, Integration and the Economy April 2005 – March 2008


This project analysed how migrant diversity influences economic performance, productivity, innovation and growth in host regions, and how this is mediated by regulatory frameworks. It took place within a wider project carried out in partnership with other European research institutes and coordinated by the Migration Research Group (MRG) of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA/HWWI). The module in which COMPAS was involved focused on the impact of mainstream and targeted policies – including services – on migrant labour market outcomes in the UK and Germany.

The study aimed to advance the debate on the theme of integration policy, focusing on the relationship between migrant diversity, migrants’ economic performance and regulatory frameworks. It looked in particular at the impact of regulatory frameworks at national and local level on the labour market outcomes of migrants. The module built on existing research into determinants of migrant incorporation in labour markets, but aimed to supplement this with a more detailed account of the role of regulatory frameworks, thereby enhancing our understanding of how policy interventions at EU, national and local level can constrain or make positive use of forms of diversity.

Principal Investigator

Alessio Cangiano


Sarah Spencer
Hiranthi Jayaweera


Volkswagen Foundation

Professionals' Advisory Group

Migration Research Group (MRG), Hamburg
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Milan
Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nürnberg and Kiel
Darmstadt University of Technology


Germany, UK






The UK and Germany were selected as case studies in order to ensure scope for comparison of regulatory frameworks – also across regions – and human, social and cultural capital of migrants. The two countries provide excellent laboratories for comparison, having dealt with integration in different ways in terms of access to citizenship, tolerance of cultural diversity, anti-discrimination legislation, and so on. The UK and Germany also delegate different degrees of competence to local authorities on integration and welfare policies, producing divergent sub-national approaches.

The research involved two main methodological steps. First, the institutional context affecting the migrants’ economic integration and the impact of such regulatory frameworks on the migrant workers’ outcomes were analysed and papers completed. Second, qualitative research was carried out in the form of approximately 130 semi-structured interviews involving 60 migrants and 5 service providers in each of the two countries. The sample included a representative balance of gender and age, socio-economic status, religion, length of residence, etc. An analysis of group outcomes in relation to different regulatory frameworks enabled researchers to explore to what extent differential outcomes are a function of forms of capital specific to ethnic groups or social background, and how regulatory frameworks are influencing the development and utilisation of these forms of capital.