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Migrant insertion in the informal economy deviant behaviour and the impact on receiving societies


The role of migrant workers in the growth of the informal economy, the spreading of deviant behaviour among migrants and the shifting of many migrants into the illegal economy, the negative attitudes of receiving societies towards migrants are generally studied one at time and country by country.

The research project aims at getting over the usual division among the different approaches and to criticize the common opinion that neglects how immigration has an important "mirror effect" for the problems of the receiving societies.

It will deal with the following issues.

* The integration of migrants in the informal labour market: what competition with domestic workers?
- Studies either on local labour markets or informal jobs will show if migrants compete with domestic workers or replace them in the lowest strata of non standard labour demand. Many variables can have an impact on this process both at micro and macro level. As regards migrants, the research will focus on their migratory projects, that can be very different according to country of origin, gender, education, age and receiving society as well. A more comprehensive typology of the contemporary migratory projects will be defined, over the plain opposition between temporary stay and settlement.
- The socio-economic features of the receiving countries and the access policies will be taken into account as control variables at macro level. Their changes over time and differences by country will be analysed in order to have a significant frame of reference.
- The project will inquire if many migrants really cross the borders between the informal labour market and the illegal economy and which conditions eventually promote this phenomenon.
* Deviant behaviour among migrants: from micro-criminality to the illegal economy.
- An in-depth and critical analysis of statistical data on migrant criminality will be made.
- Relation between migrants and domestic people in the illegal economy will be investigated: competition, substitution or subordination?
- It will be shown what connection exists between clandestine immigration and integration in the illegal economy.
* Social attitudes towards migrants and the urban securitarian movements: The project will aim at verifying the hypothesis that the general attitudes of domestic people towards migrants are different from the specific reactions to migrants who have deviant behaviour or are involved in the informal and even more illegal economy. Three typical cases of interactions between migrants and domestic people will be studied:

- The reactions to migrant workers performing high "visible" activities in the cities, both informal and illegal.
- The reactions that are related to direct competition between migrants and domestic people in the illegal economy.
- The conflicts related to huge insertion of migrant workers in some sectors of the informal labour market.

The channels through which the information about the criminality of foreigners reaches the local population and the part played by these channels in the formation of attitudes will be investigated.

* New versus old receiving countries.

In new receiving countries of Southern Europe the new trends in migratory phenomenon can be seen in an almost pure state, Germany and France as old countries will be taken into account as reference for the comparative analysis.

To support the comparative analysis, a synthetic picture will be draft about the economic and social structure both of each receiving country and local society where field researches shall be carried out. A special emphasis will be laid on the spreading both of the informal/illegal economy and of the criminality.

In order to evaluate and validate the results of the project a monitoring group of potential users will be set up. This group will be made by representatives from the studied cities and from NGO in the migration field both at national and European level. At least four meetings will be organized to manage the project, including two meetings in Brussels : March 96, September 96 (in Brussels), November 96, September 97 and April 98 (final meeting in Brussels).

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Università degli Studi di Parma
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Via Kennedy 6
43100 Parma

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