The MPI Europe-BIT report investigates whether similar approaches could be used by integration policymakers. ‘Promising approaches such as perspective-taking activities and highlighting shared identities between newcomers and existing citizens can start to expand the concept of us, and reduce the concept of them’, said report co-author Antonio Silva, a BIT senior advisor. For example, writing about a day in the life of another person, prompting people to recount discrimination they themselves have faced before thinking about someone else’s experience or even playing virtual reality games where they walk in the footsteps of migrants could all help to boost empathy and understanding.
Because citizenship acquisition marks an important milestone in civic integration, mentoring programmes and volunteering opportunities could also be used to encourage eligible immigrants to naturalise, and citizenship ceremonies could be made more meaningful by encouraging existing citizens to attend and connect with new citizens.
These innovations are generally cheap and quick to set up. Pilot schemes could be designed across countries, and once tested, they would be easy to scale up, meaning governments could make a big impact with a relatively small investment. ‘The arrival of large numbers of migrants and refugees into Europe in the last few years created chaos in asylum and settlement systems’, said co-author Meghan Benton. ‘Many countries are now looking to the future—ensuring the migration crisis doesn’t leave long-term scars by helping newcomers settle in and bridging social divides. The behavioural insights approach offers fresh, evidence-tested ideas for improving access to services, promoting social mixing and reducing barriers to work and education—all fundamental tenets of integration’.
The report was produced for MPI Europe's Integration Futures Working Group, which brings together policymakers and experts, civil-society officials and private-sector leaders to create a platform for long-term strategic and creative thinking. The Working Group is supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation.