Department of Sociology and Social Work

Research project by SocMap - Sociological Mapping



Are "ghettos" a problem for integration of migrants in Denmark? Flows, consequences and the impact of policies (GHET-IN)

Last modified: 24.09.2020

Migrants – especially vulnerable groups such as refugees – tend to cluster in areas (e.g. OECD, 2018). Politicians often fear that ethnic segregation influences their integration negatively in terms of labour market participation, educational outcomes, cultural adaptation and ultimately social cohesion if these areas develop into ‘parallel societies’ (Heitmeyer, 1996; Regeringen, 2018; Musterd, 2005). However, there are certain positive network effects of living in close proximity to other country-men, which are often overlooked. Various Danish governments has since 1994 implemented six “ghetto-plans”. The latest includes 22 measures that aims at “…breaking down and preventing parallel societies” in 30 residential areas, which are referred to as “ghettos” [1] (Regeringen, 2018: 7).

There is a need for empirical knowledge concerning the consequences of ethnic segregation and evaluations of policies. Consequently, the GHET-IN project attempts to fill a gap by critically investigating the positive and negative effects of living in a so-called “ghetto”, while answering to the following research questions:

  • How does flows of various migrant groups influence “ghetto formation” and what explains them? 
  • How and through which mechanisms does living in a ”ghetto” have consequences for the human capital accumulation of migrants (Danish language skills, educational outcomes)? Here, we particularly focus on mechanisms – both positive and negative – related to network quality and collective efficacy.
  • To which extent can policies impact on “ghetto flows” (in and out flows)? Here, we particularly focus on policies, which create disincentives for living in a “ghetto”.

The knowledge provided by the GHET-IN project regarding ghetto flows, impact of policies and consequences for migrants’ human capital (language skills, educational outcomes) is central to stakeholders who manage the integration challenges. At national level, the GHET-IN project contributes with evaluations of concrete policies aimed at influencing ghetto flows (settlement policy, family reunification, welfare policies etc.). At municipal or local level, welfare services are normally organized in areas or districts. However, increased spatial segregation poses challenges to welfare service and territorial cohesion, because the conditions, lifestyle and aspirations of people increasingly become differentiated. The place-based approach to policy adopted by the GHET-IN project and involvement of stakeholders exactly provides the differentiated knowledge needed for overcoming the effects of living in ethnically segregated areas.

The project is led by Professor Anja Jørgensen and SocMap members Anna Diop-Christensen and Rolf Lyneborg Lund are part of the research team. The project is funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark | Social Sciences and has a budget of 5.8 million Danish Kroner. It runs from 2020 to 2024.

Contact information

Professor Anja Jørgensen: E-mail:

Go to Ghet-In's website


Ivankova, N.V., J. W. Creswell & S.L. Stick (2006): ‘Using Mixed-Methods Sequential Explanatory Design: From Theory to Practice’, Field Methods, Vol 18, Issue 1.

-Musterd, S. (2005): ‘Social and Ethnic Segregation in Europe: Levels, Causes, and Effects’, Journal of Urban Affairs, vol. 27, issue 3.

OECD (2018): Divided Cities – Understanding Intra-urban Inequalities. Paris: OECD-Publishing.

Regeringen (2018): Ét Danmark uden parallelsamfund – Ingen ghettoer i 2030. Link.

-Røed, K. and Raaum, O. (2003): ‘Administrative Registers - Unexplored Reservoirs of Scientific Knowledge?’, Economic Journal.

[1] More than 50 % migrants and descendants plus poor socioeconomic outcomes, see

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