Friday, September 07, 2007

The challenge of integration examined empirically

It may not seem like news that Muslim populations are not integrating into the communities around them. This study, via Chris Dillow, still seems important. It provides statistical confirmation that we have a very serious and novel problem; that we're not just looking at the integration of other communities with rose-tinted spectacles and ascribing to Muslims problems integrating that all immigrants share. Muslim immigrants do not integrate like other communities as they spend more time here and improve their socio-economic status.

The study only looks at the UK but I'd guess its results replicate throughout Europe. It has long appeared that the scale of a country's difficulties with integrating its Muslim population varied, more than anything, with that population's size. While with previous waves of immigration some countries seemed to do better than others, Britain in particular appeared to have done well, now all countries are faring pretty much equally poorly. The understanding of why Muslims struggle to integrate that I came to the best part of a year ago is still pretty solid I think.

This is a very serious problem. It means a clash of values and perspectives within Europe that few are willing to confront. Instead everyone will avoid the problem as the continent sleepwalks towards disaster. The few solutions we do have in mind, such as seeking physical integration in the hope that social integration will follow, fail dismally according to this research.

With these kinds of social trends we should be thinking very carefully about where our multi-ethnic community is going. Unfortunately, the debate over community cohesion and integration tends to be dominated by a lot of very superficial thinking.

1 comment:

Meg said...

Did you see this week's Economist? There's an article about building mosques in the US and Europe you might find interesting.