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Working paper

Understanding Convergence in Immigrant Integration Policies. The Cases of Denmark and Sweden Since 1960.

Most comparative studies of immigration and integration policies seek to explain causality in policy divergence. Hardly, do they try to understand the processes that underpin convergence. This article seeks to narrow this gap by studying the immigrant integration policies of Denmark and Sweden, two countries with strong similarities and a close tradition of policy cooperation but whose policies have been characterised as antipodean. Applying theories of policy convergence adapted from environmental policy research, it shows that since 1960, their official integration policies have been more convergent than assumed; emphasizing employment issues and dealing only marginally with issues concerning multiculturalism and assimilation. Until the migration crisis in the 1980s, both countries’ policymakers legislated hesitantly but Sweden was a frontrunner. After this period of time, they legislated actively with Denmark making up for lost ground and even providing inspiration.