E.g., 09/22/2014
E.g., 09/22/2014

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives

In France, where integration initiatives are limited to an immigrant's first five years in the country, "mainstreaming"—the practice of reaching people with a migration background through social programming and policies that address the needs of the general population—is an intrinsic characteristic of integration policy. However, because French law prohibits the collection of official statistics based on ethnicity, and because most children of immigrants are French citizens, it is difficult to assess to what extent policies aimed at the general population affect immigrant youth. This is further complicated by a deep societal distrust of policies that target a particular group over others, originating from the French republican principle of equal treatment regardless of origin, religion, or race. 

This report traces the history and recent developments of immigrant integration in France, which has been a popular destination for migrants since the 19th century. The size of France's foreign born population is on par with that of other European countries, but immigrants in France arrived earlier. As a result, France has one of the highest proportions of immigrant descendants in Europe. 

France has primarily focused on integration initiatives that target youth in three key areas: education, employment, and social cohesion. A recent reorganization of the institutions responsible for implementing integration policy has effectively mainstreamed those programs. In addition, a new area-based approach to solving problems of inequality has taken precedence over initiatives that tackle issues specific to immigrant youth, including discrimination. This approach is also limited in its ability to reach immigrant groups that are more widely dispersed geographically. 

As the government of President Francois Hollande considers further institutional changes to integration policy, including the delegation of responsibilities from the Interior Ministry to various relevant bodies, the concept of "mainstreaming" is likely to affect governance structures and the public discourse surrounding immigrant integration. 

The report is one in a comparative research project conducted in collaboration with the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford and Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Table of Contents 

Executive Summary

A. Integration Policy in France

B. Do General Youth Policies Reach Those of Immigrant Origin?

C. Assessing Mainstreaming in France

I. Introduction

A. An Overview of Immigration Trends

B. Immigrant Integration: An Administrative Overview

C. Mainstreaming Integration Policy: To What Extent and How Deliberate?

D. Youth as the Central Focus of Integration Policies

E. Methodology

II. Targeting Within Mainstreaming: Does Youth Policy Reach Those of Immigrant Origin?

A. Educational Policy

B. Employment Policy

C. Social Cohesion Policy

III. Conclusion: Assessing Mainstreaming in France