Policymakers need new tools and better evidence for assessing returns on investment in refugee integration, says MPI Europe report
BRUSSELS – Billions of euros will be spent on efforts to integrate refugees in Europe over the next few years, so it is vital that policymakers use solid methods to monitor their spending on these programmes, a new Migration Policy Institute Europe report argues.
The report, A Needed Evidence Revolution: Using cost-benefit analysis to improve refugee integration programming, urges integration policymakers to employ innovative methods for predicting and evaluating the outcomes of integration programmes.
In particular, it recommends these policymakers make use of sophisticated models of cost-benefit analysis that can estimate long-term and indirect benefits. Rather than regarding investments solely through the lens of taxes raised or revenue saved, the most cutting-edge techniques draw on a broader concept of social value that would include, for example, increasing the lifetime earnings of participants, improving the well-being of refugees’ descendants or reductions in crime.
Similar models are already used in areas such as criminal justice or health policy. As with integration, costs in these policy areas are immediate, but benefits can be long term and less tangible.
‘Done right, this approach could be used to improve decisions about integration policy’, write authors Meghan Benton and Paul Diegert. ‘It could also help policymakers reassure sceptical publics or the ministries that hold the purse strings that it is worth investing in integration’.
The report calls for Europe to harness the energy and enthusiasm of think tanks, young researchers and academics to create an ‘evidence culture’ in integration policy. Better analysis could feed this process by setting up more effective ways of collecting evidence.
‘Most governments are still far from true evidence-based policymaking in the field of refugee integration’, says the report. ‘The development of tools for comparing the evidence on policies and considering whether investments will have long-term payoffs is long overdue’.
Read the report, co-published with the Bertelsmann Stiftung, here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/cost-benefit-analysis-refugee-integration-programming.
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MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally. For more, visit www.mpieurope.org.