Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Study on the Local Integration of Immigrants into the Labour Market


The OECD Programme on Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) has launched a study on local level initiatives to foster the integration of immigrant groups, in cooperation with the Non-Member Economies and International Migration Division (NEIM).  Participating countries include Canada, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and UK, with parallel research being carried out into local initiatives which tackle issues caused by emigration in Albania and Bulgaria. The results of the study were discussed at the international conference ‘Immigration to Integration: Lessons Drawn from Local Responses’, held in New York City, on 15 December 2005.  The full report will be released by the end of 2006 as an OECD publication under the title: "From Immigration to Integration: Local Solutions to a Global Challenge". For more information, please contact Ms. Francesca Froy


With the coming retirement of aging baby-boomers, the potential role of migration in alleviating the rise in the dependency ratio, in helping to finance pension systems and in satisfying the needs of the labour market has been the object of a certain number of studies. It is now generally recognised that increased migration inflows cannot be expected to offset fully the projected rise in old-age dependency rates in member countries: the required flows would be too large. However, it is also generally acknowledged that migration can nevertheless play a role in alleviating the adverse consequences of ageing populations, in conjunction with other policies. For this to be a feasible policy option in the future, however, it is clearly necessary that the current stock of immigrants and future arrivals be in some sense “integrated” into the societies of OECD countries. The question of integration is not a new one; immigrants at all times and places have had to adapt to the host country and vice-versa. The nature of the integration process has differed from country to country and over time depending on the migration history of the country, the characteristics of arrivals, the existing programmes in place to assist immigrants upon arrival and the general social and economic conditions in the country. The issue seems pressing now because of the large numbers of immigrants that have entered OECD countries during the nineties, because integration results do not seem to be as favourable in recent years in a number of countries as they were in the past and because many countries expect that a recourse to immigrants may be necessary in the near future.

In this context, the LEED element of this study will explore local initiatives and local governance frameworks which support the integration of immigration in participating countries. The study will assess how local interventions relate to national and regional policy frameworks, and the specific nature of the immigrant population with the country, and analyse the extent to which they contribute to the integration of immigrants into the labour market. The aim is to draw lessons for the establishment of effective instruments and methods in other regions and in other OECD countries. The project will comprise fieldwork leading to case study reports, a period of analytical work, and a final publication which will include a set of policy recommendations. Study visits will involve meetings with representatives of government, local authorities, business, trade unions and community-based/non-government organisations, including local immigrant groups.