Tuesday seminar with Vilde Hernes
Cross-country convergence in time of crisis? Scandinavian integration policies before, during and after the refugee crisis
With the worst refugee crisis Europe has faced since the Second World War as a backdrop, this paper analyses if, how and why the crisis lead to converging integration policies in Scandinavia, studying policies of permanent residence, citizenship, family reunification and access to social benefits. Based on a logic of regulatory competition, it hypothesizes that the crisis led to more restrictive and conditional national integration policies for refugees, leading to cross-country convergence. The analysis of policy processes before, during and after the crisis finds evidence for goal convergence, as all three countries explicitly used integration policies to decrease the number of asylum seekers. Thus, in times of crisis, when immigration and integration objectives meet and compete, the former wins. Nonetheless, as all three countries took restrictive steps, the cross-country gap persists when comparing the configuration of policy instruments and the settings of these instruments. Thus, traits of path-dependency are clearly visible. The analysis illustrates the importance of including more than one subset-category of integration policies, as analysing these elements in combination is necessary to get the full picture of the overall trends of convergence and divergence. The conclusion use examples from the empirical analysis to discuss a sever challenge in the current policy convergence debate in the integration literature; how an insufficient level of precision concerning 1) different dimensions of the policies, and 2) how to assess convergence, could lead to inaccurate and sometimes even opposite conclusions when interpreting empirical analyses.