​ Anton Ahlén defends his thesis on 21 October


Anton Ahlén defends of his thesis Managing migration in modern welfare states – Essays on the development, causes, and effects of policies regulating family immigration on 21 October at 13.15.

Anton Ahlén

The external reviewer is Professor Christian Albrekt Larsen, Institut for Politik og Samfund, Aalborg University.

The members of the examining committee are Associate Professor Sara Kalm, Department of Political Science, Lund University, Professor Matz Dahlberg, IBF and Department of Economics, Uppsala University and Professor Shirin Ahlbäck Öberg, Department of Government, Uppsala University (chair of the public defence).

Most welcome to Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala!

Managing migration in modern welfare states – Essays on the development, causes, and effects of policies regulating family immigration

Family migration – the migration of people due to family ties – has been the largest admission category in OECD countries during the past few decades, accounting for almost 40 percent of the total inflow of international migrants in many countries. It has also been increasingly contested in political debate. On the one hand, family migration is seen as a regular type of migration that has a positive impact on the well-being and integration of migrants. It has also found favour as providing a ‘safe and orderly’ route of entry in recent international initiatives – as, for example, in Agenda 2030 (reference 10.7) and in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. On the other hand, family migration has often been depicted – especially in the aftermath of the so-called ‘migration crisis’ of 2015–2016 – as ‘unwanted chain migration’ that poses a threat to social cohesion and the welfare state.

In line with the latter view, many OECD countries, especially in Europe, have introduced more restrictive policies on family immigration during the last few decades. Yet, previous research has left many questions unanswered regarding the emergence and implications of family-immigration policies. Most strikingly, there is a lack of cross-country studies of the development, causes, and effects of family-immigration policies over time. We still know little, therefore, about how cross-country policy configurations in this area have evolved and varied over time (that is the descriptive question), or about how policies affect inflows and why they differ between countries (these are the explanatory questions). This compilation thesis addresses these research gaps by presenting a set of integrated analyses of variations and changes in family-immigration policies across periods and countries.

Essay I presents a typology for analysing policy configurations and changes therein. It finds that admission policies on average became more restrictive over time, although there were some notable exceptions. Uncovering patterns of congruence and deviation in a more detailed way than previous research has done, this paper qualifies previous expectations about convergence, a ‘race to the bottom’, and a ‘civic turn’ in family-immigration policies. Essay II develops and tests different theories of what causes policy changes. It finds that the restrictive effects of certain risk factors on family-immigration policies, such as growing immigration and worsening economic distress, have been conditioned by the type of welfare regime. Essay III investigates whether and how much family-immigration policies have influenced patterns of family immigration in European states. While restrictive admission policies have led to falling overall levels of family immigration, the analysis reveals stratifying implications, whereby the effect have been greater where the sponsor is a non-EU citizen than where he/she is an EU citizen.

With its three-stage approach, this dissertation contributes to the study of comparative migration policies. It presents new findings on the interplay between welfare states and migration policies, on the methods with which states regulate international migration, and on the differential impact of different policies on the size and composition of migrant inflows. It also adds insights on increasingly conditional forms of migration management in modern welfare states.

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Public Defences

Last modified: 2023-11-23