As migrant integration field lags in embracing evidence-informed policymaking, MPI Europe brief sketches strategy to foster effective integration policies
BRUSSELS — Questions about how to effectively promote migrants’ integration are again front and center in European policymakers’ minds. The displacement of several million people from Ukraine, coupled with pressing European labor shortages and strained government budgets, reinforce the importance of implementing integration policies that are both effective and efficiently use limited resources.
Yet even as governments, community organizations and others are exhibiting significant innovation, resources devoted to evaluating the impact of new integration initiatives often are limited and there is little bandwidth for developing an evidence base in the heat of crisis to support improved policymaking going forward. As a result, lessons from some of the most promising innovations get lost.
The evidence revolution that has swept through many policy areas, with states and international organizations such as the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development officially embracing and promoting evidence-informed policymaking has yet to fully reach the migrant integration policymaking space, a Migration Policy Institute Europe policy brief out today argues.
‘Throughout the policymaking cycle—from agenda-setting to policy design, and from implementation to evaluation—crucial opportunities to learn from past experiences and use that knowledge to strengthen future initiatives are being missed’, MPI Europe analysts Jasmijn Slootjes and Maria Belen Zanzuchi write.
Evidence-informed policymaking promotes migrant well-being as well as good governance by improving institutional learning, accountability and cost-effective spending. It also can benefit the broader society by leading to integration policies that facilitate economic growth, a thriving labor market and social cohesion.
The brief outlines five strategies to nurture a more conducive environment for evidence-informed integration policymaking:
Using pilot projects to keep costs low and cultivate political buy-in before scaling them up. Such projects have lower risks and costs than launching untested large-scale programs and are less complex to discontinue if they are unsuccessful.
Increasing targeted investments in evidence-based policymaking. Such investments, though resource consuming, are likely to reduce wasteful spending and increase cost effectiveness.
Promoting stakeholder involvement throughout the policy cycle, including the evaluation stage. Involving practitioners and program beneficiaries can ensure that evaluators’ recommendations reflect the reality on the ground in terms of needs, capacity and resources.
Improving access to evidence by leveraging online databases and multi-stakeholder networks. To maximize their impact, databases should raise the visibility of key lessons from policy evaluations of both successful and unsuccessful initiatives, as well as share practical evaluation tools. Multi-stakeholder networks also can facilitate dialogue and peer learning.
Building the capacity of policymakers and other key stakeholders to use evidence-informed techniques. Skill-building efforts tend to be aimed at evaluators. Ensuring other actors have access to this critical knowledge can increase their motivation to use evidence-informed techniques.
The policy brief, Promoting Evidence-Informed Immigrant Integration Policymaking, was generated under the Sustainable Practices of Integration (SPRING) project, which is receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. MPI Europe is one of the consortium partners in SPRING, which aims to make immigrant integration practices more effective and sustainable.
Read the brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/evidence-informed-integration-policymaking.
To learn more about the SPRING project and access research developed by consortium partners, visit: https://integrationpractices.eu/.