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Back | Programme Area: Gender and Development, Special Events

Gendered Migrations, Livelihoods and Entitlements in European Welfare Regimes (Draft)



Background paper prepared for the UNRISD report "Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World"

This paper focuses on the livelihoods and entitlements of Third Country women in different welfare regimes, and who enter on their own for work and education, as family migrants or as asylum seekers and refugees. It primarily focuses on first generation migrants, that is those who were born in another country. In many European countries the term migrant is both narrower and more extensive. Narrower in the sense that too often a ‘migrant’ is someone from a Third World country with value systems different to prevailing European norms. Frequently, migrant women, and especially if Muslim, quintessentially exemplify the weight of tradition. Recent immigration and integration policy has evolved around the idea of “immigrant islands outside the social consensus’ who need to be integrated (German Federal President Johannes Rau). At the same time, ‘migrant’ may, in states such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland, be applied to all non-nationals, many of whom have been born and educated in the country These states have until recently followed the principle of jus sanguinis where citizenship follows kin lines and naturalization is lengthy and costly. In Germany since the 1990s there have been changes to naturalization and citizenship laws which have facilitated the take-up of German citizenship.. In this case it is difficult distinguishing those of migrant origin from recent arrivals.

The paper is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the gendered characteristics of different categories of immigration (labour, family, asylum) which are internally differentiated. The second section turns to migrant livelihoods and examines the influence on the nature of female employment patterns of migration in five countries with different welfare regimes. The third section evaluates the differential impact and outcomes of immigration, residence and citizenship regulations on women migrants.

The countries selected for a fuller analysis of gendered migrations, livelihoods and entitlements are positioned differently in terms of welfare and migratory regimes. The typology of welfare regimes is largely drawn from the influential model proposed by Gosta Esping-Andersen but modified to take account of their recent trajectory in the 1990s. Sweden has a social democratic welfare regime and has mainly received family reunion migrants and large numbers of asylum seekers since the stoppage of labour migration in 1972. Germany is a conservative corporatist welfare regime, which originally drew its migrants from the Mediterranean as guest workers based on an ethnic and exclusionary model of incorporation. Following the end of the bipolar world, its migrants have increasingly come from Eastern Europe while the numbers applying for asylum have on average been the highest in Europe. France, also a conservative corporatist welfare regime, has a long history of waves of immigration, both from neighbouring states and its colonies in North and West Africa and South East Asia. Spain could also be said to have become a conservative Southern rim welfare regime. Its immigration history is more recent and diversified than countries in Northern Europe. Colonial links too play a part in migratory patterns, though its proximity to North Africa and the opening up of Eastern Europe have shaped its recent migratory patterns. Lastly, the UK, a welfare regime in the vanguard of neo-liberal measures, which has been profoundly marked by its colonial ties in its migratory patterns and policies. As subjects, the population from its colonies were incorporated in the post-war period until 1981 as citizens. The implementation of neo-liberal policies in the 1980s contributed to the reduction of investment in professional training, eventually resulting in severe shortages, not just in information technology but also in many social and welfare occupations. Additionally, the UK sees itself positioned as a global player eager to compete in the market for skilled labour. Its deregulated labour markets have also offered migrants employment unwanted by homestate labour.