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ERC

MiTSoPro Report Summary

Project ID: 680014
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MiTSoPro (Migration and Transnational Social Protection in (post-)crisis Europe)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

High rates of unemployment in Europe since the start of the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with changing migration trends, have led to a high number of EU and non-EU migrants asking for social protection benefits. Governments across the EU have accordingly considered reducing migrants’ access to this support, despite the fact that these people are increasingly at risk of poverty and exclusion. Migrants’ strategies to cope with health or unemployment risks are at the core of this project. Spanning from the entitlements in host and home countries to informal family and community-based practices, Dr Lafleur will investigate what he defines as ‘transnational social protection’. His team will compile information on welfare entitlements from the 28 EU member States and 12 non-EU countries into a single database. In addition, they will document the experience of immigrants accessing social protection in various cities across the EU. This data will contribute to a better understanding of the type of social protection policies for citizens living abroad.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first period of 18 months, the project has been successful launched and has consisted in four core missions that are critical for the completion of the first set of deliverables of MITSOPRO that are the creation of a database and index on social protection and diaspora policies. First, the P.I. has conducted the recruitment process in view of hiring one doctoral and one post-doctoral candidates that are in charge of the building of the survey whose results will be used to build the databases and index. Second, together with the P.I and, in consultation with the project’s advisory board, the team designed the survey, identified the experts and entered in a continuing dialogue with experts in order to ensure the timely delivery (and the quality) of their responses to the survey. Identifying the experts that have the skills to respond to the survey has been a particularly challenging task. In spite of the fact that the work of expert is paid, the very limited number of such experts in the world and their busy agenda has —in some cases— delayed the data collection process or forced us to find alternative experts. Overall, this process is not entirely finished but well on its way at the end of this first 18-month period and is expected to be entirely completed during the next period. Third, the team has started to review and treat the results of the survey and designed a methodology for the creation of the index. Fourth, the team conducted a series of seminar and participated in different scientific events (conferences) to discuss their methods and present early research results. This led to the preparation of 2 publications that will be submitted in the coming months in addition to the three conceptual articles that have been published during this period.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

How do migrants access social protection in (post) crisis Europe? What kinds of social protection can migrants export from their home country when residing abroad? Under what conditions can migrants assemble their own cross-border social protection strategies, using home and host state policies and more informal community and family resources? In particular, how do these migrants’ social protection strategies fare to overcome inequalities in access to formal social protection in their country of residence? This project proposes a long-term research effort with the aims of answering these research questions.

Since the beginning of the global financial and economic crisis, high unemployment, increased poverty and changing labour market conditions (e.g., a rising share of temporary employment) have increased demand on social protection systems within the European Union (EU). Simultaneously, many countries have undertaken reforms to curb social expenditure as part of fiscal consolidation efforts. In the context of the crisis and these migration trends, the use of social protection entitlements by EU migrants and third-country nationals has become increasingly controversial. In the context of migrants’ reduced access to social protection in the host country, the exportation of home country social protection and the development of informal strategies inside immigrant families and communities constitute important alternatives to help immigrants cope with socioeconomic hardship.

This project will thus contribute in an innovative way to the study of migration and the welfare state in Europe by studying transnational social protection, which we define as migrants’ cross-border strategies to cope with social risks in areas such as health, long-term care, pensions or unemployment, that combine entitlements to host and home state-based public welfare policies and market-, family- and community- based practices.

Overall, MiTSoPro will contribute to a better understanding of how migrants access social protection in three ways : 1) by creating a database on the exportability of home country social protection policies and programs for all EU-28 Member States and for 12 non-EU countries with large number of citizens living in the EU (under way to be completed in 2019), 2) a ‘transnational social protection index’ (TSPIx) (under way to be completed in 2019) to comparatively measure the variations in home countries’ social protection provisions available towards citizens abroad, and 3) a multi-sited ethnographic study (to start in late 2018) on the interactions between migrants’ formal and informal social protection strategies.
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