Desktop version

Home arrow Economics arrow Children and Forced Migration: Durable Solutions During Transient Years

Defining and Measuring Reintegration

Competing definitions of reintegration are used in studies on return and reintegration. Some definitions argue for comparing the situation before and after return. Others compare returnees to the local population— people without migration experiences (IOM 2004; Black et al. 2004; UNHCR 2004). Still others, usually policymakers, see integration as the absence of the intention to move again. The academic literature on reintegration is sparse, particularly compared to the literature on integration, as examined by Koser and Kuschminder (2015).

Many factors are considered as key to determining how reintegration processes unfold (see Koser and Kuschminder 2015 for an overview). Broadly speaking, these variables include the returnees’ characteristics. the returnees’ premigration situation; the migration experience itself, the occurrences in the country migrated to including its context as it relates to the country migrated from; the conditions under which returnees returned; and the experiences after return, which include the context in the return country. Reintegration is inherently multidimensional with a combination of individual and structural factors influencing the reintegration process (Rogge 1994; Black and Gent 2006; Cassarino 2014). Cassarino (2008) explains reintegration as “. the process through which a return migrant participates in the social, cultural, economic, and political life in the country of origin” (127). The IOM defines reintegration as “re-inclusion or re-incorporation of a person into a group or a process, e.g. of a migrant into the society of

Table 1 Reintegration Dimensions from Other Authors



Cassarino (2004)

UNHCR (2004)


Labor market integration, employment, creation of a sustainable livelihood

Access to productive resources


Participation in organizations, relationships, education for youth, acceptance by family and friends

Access to services, security, absence of discrimination, dispute resolution at the community level


Citizenship and rights to participate in elections and judicial processes

Access to legal processes and legal support for property ownership


Participation in cultural events and acceptance of norms and values


Stable government, political participation, political gender equality, freedom of thought and expression, protection from persecution

his country of origin,” but also it allows for different types of reintegration including social, economic, and cultural (IOM 2004, 54). Table 1 shows different dimensions of reintegration as elaborated by Cassarino (2004) and UNHCR (2004).

Following the work of migration scholars and international organizations working on reintegration, this chapter draws from the human development and multidimensional poverty approaches to more systematically and holistically investigate reintegration. This approach is in line with recent efforts in multidimensional poverty measurement (Alkire and Foster 2011; Alkire and Santos 2010; Bourguignon and Chakravarty 2003). This approach to poverty measurement began with the work of Amartya Sen (Sen 1976, 1982, 1985, 1993) and has been expanded on by others (Laderchi et al. 2003; Nussbaum 1992, 2000). The concept has been further operationalized with the underlying idea that poverty is more than just monetary poverty and that deprivation is possible in many other areas (Baulch and Masset 2003; Bourguignon and Chakravarty 2003; Bradshaw and Finch 2003).

Six dimensions of reintegration are specifically explored: living conditions, education, health access, economic conditions, social and financial inclusion, and security (see Table 2). We use variables at both the household and individual child level and in some cases, the head of the household or the main respondent of the survey. The operationalizations of the variables are explained in the table.

First, the living conditions dimension includes indicators that measure housing conditions, access to electricity, clean drinking water, and sanitation. Second, the education dimension focuses on the educational attainment of both the child and the head of the household in which the child resides. The included indicators measure other aspects of educational performance, including school attendance and whether the child is in the right grade for his or her age. Third, health access was measured by exploring whether the household has access to a hospital or clinic, if needed. Fourth, the economic conditions dimension is similar to that of Cassarino (2004) and the UNHCR (2004), but includes more indicators that were specifically designed for the country context. For example, land ownership is an important indicator for economic well-being in Burundi and was included here.

Fifth, the social and cultural dimension of reintegration described by migration scholars is captured in the inclusion dimension. The focus here is on organization memberships of the household and whether it has a bank account, savings, and a mobile phone. Finally, security is an important part of daily life in Burundi. In a postconflict situation, feelings of security and safety for children play an important role in reintegration so these are included here. This dimension measures the attitudes of the household heads regarding reconciliation, feelings of justice, and feelings of danger. Indicators measuring child labor also were included in the security dimension because these indicators pertain specifically to the security of the child.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >

Related topics