Project: The importance of social networks – University of Copenhagen

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The importance of social networks in the integration of labour migrants

PhD project

The number of Central and Eastern Europeans who receive unemployment benefits, child benefits and social assistance in Denmark has increased. At the same time, the debate has been centered on their motivation to come to Denmark. This has called into question whether the rules on free movement within the EU is beneficial for Denmark. Various calculations - from the Ministry of Finance and others - show that Central and Eastern Europeans, depending on the assumptions underlying the calculations are either a national economic expense or income. Most recently, calculations based on register data provided a partial picture of these groups' history in Denmark prior to that their reception of social benefits. However, there are limits to how far we can come only by looking at register data. The problem is that the increase in the number of social benefits recipients, we find in the register data, tell us nothing about why Central and Eastern Europeans come to Denmark. At present, we have no systematic knowledge about either their motivation to come to Denmark, their employment and educational background or their social network in Denmark.

Based on the theory of social networks for migrants immediate integration in the labour market, it is the intention of the project to study the importance of these networks for the migrants' further integration into the labour market. The project investigates the factors that come into play in relation to migrants' ability over time to integrate the parts of the labour market where the demand for skills are greater. The project specifically analyses the role social networks play. The network that initially helped secure the migrant worker employment in Denmark, may not be the same, which provide the migrant jobs higher up the value chain - the original network may even be limiting. This may be explained by the greater emphasis on formal competence requirements and language requirements in these jobs.

The project methodologically consists of two integrated parts; The first is a survey among a group of EU citizens from Poland and Romania residing in Denmark and second, a data analysis of register data. By using the social security numbers as the starting point the survey data can afterwards be linked to the register data at the individual level.

Researcher: Jonas Felbo-Kolding
Duration: mid-2014 to mid-2017
Financing: The project is financed by the Ministry of Employment and FAOS' program license from 2014 to 2018.
For futher information please contact: Jonas Felbo-Kolding, tel. +45 35 32 44 99, e-mail