E.g., 06/24/2024
E.g., 06/24/2024
Decentralising Immigrant Integration: Denmark’s Mainstreaming Initiatives in Employment, Education, and Social Affairs

In Denmark, the topic of immigrant integration has been highly politicized and has been decisive for the outcome of elections. Denmark was among the first European countries to develop and implement a comprehensive Act of Integration, in 1998. It was also among the first to centralize the coordination of integration efforts in one ministry, collecting competences from the various ministries and agencies previously responsible for integration efforts. 

The most recent shift in Denmark’s national integration policy framework is toward "mainstreaming" services (i.e., addressing the entire population instead of targeting a specific group) and decentralizing their coordination, having abolished the centralized Ministry for Refugees, Immigrants, and Integration in 2011. While the term mainstreaming is not commonly used in the area of immigrant integration policy in Denmark, it has been prevalent in practice. However, mainstreaming is difficult at the national level since integration policies—even if designed centrally—are implemented at the local level. Studies elsewhere have shown that divergences often can be identified between policy frameworks at local and national levels. This pattern can be seen in Denmark, where larger cities in particular have developed less restrictive and more accommodative policy responses to immigrant integration. 

This report examines the development of immigrant integration policies in Denmark over the past 15 years, specifically focusing on the decentralization of Danish integration policies. It also explores differences between policy frameworks at national and local levels, where certain areas have developed less restrictive and more accommodating policy responses to immigrant integration. The report also examines the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, and finds that the two municipalities have undertaken a more deliberate approach to mainstreaming. This approach can be seen in both word and action throughout the cities.

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 

I.    Introduction: Immigration and Integration in Denmark

A.    Migrants and Minorities

B.    Integration Policy since 1999

C.    Monitoring Integration at the National and Local Levels

II.    Mainstreaming: To What Extent and How Deliberate?

A.    Challenges to Mainstreaming

B.    Mainstreamed Immigrant Integration Policies at the Local Level

C.    Youth as a Central Focus

III.    Key Mainstream Policy Areas and their Impact on Youth of Immigrant Origin

A.    Education Policy

B.    Employment Policy

C.    Antidiscrimination Policy

IV.    Conclusion: Where to From Here?