Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Immigrants don't integrate very well, no matter where they come from

Copenhagen Post:

Although immigrants in Denmark have been criticised by the public, politicians and the media for not integrating and instead living alongside people from the country, various studies show that Danes living abroad follow precisely the same pattern, reported 24timer newspaper Monday.

One new study, conducted by sociologist Karen O'Reilly of Loughborough University in the UK, showed that Northern Europeans largely associate only with their own kind when living abroad. It also showed that for the 35,000 or so Danes living on the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain, integration was 'minimal'.

O'Reilly's research indicated that only five percent of those Danes could speak fluent Spanish and that most still eat traditional Danish food such as smørrebrød and frikadeller, they rarely vote in local elections, and most live in an almost exclusively Danish community. She said that trend was typical among Northern Europeans, but most glaring among Danes and Brits.

'Beyond the fact that only a few can speak the local languages, the lack of integration is caused by people living in their own little bubbles,' said O'Reilly. 'British and Danish people live close together in their own mini-communities. What's more, Danes don't work with the locals, either because they're retired or because they work in services aimed only at Danes.'

Other information supports this analysis. Figures from the network Danes Worldwide indicated that nine out of 10 Danes continue to feel Danish regardless of how long they have lived abroad - and more than half of those said they feel more Danish than before they left Denmark.

Reporters from 24timer conducting their own study were greeted by the same tendencies. In fact, one needed to travel no further than across the Øresund Strait to Malmö, Sweden to find this trend, where nearly 75 percent of residents in the city's Hyllie district were Danish and 45 percent in the Annastad district.

'I've experienced a great number of cases where Danes consciously keep their children and family out of the community,' said Lisa G James, who operates a homepage aimed at integrating Danes into Swedish society.

She called it a 'paradox' that Danes chastise immigrants for not integrating, yet behave in the same manner when they move abroad.

More evidence that people prefer to associate with their own kind which is why ethnic diversity usually breeds greater social divisions.

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