Migrant integration, albeit a complex issue, has always been an important part of the migration phenomenon. In an increasingly globalized world, the growth in the absolute number of migrants over the past 50 years and the diversification of migrants’ origins, socioeconomic backgrounds and reasons for migrating have led to more social, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in receiving societies. The unprecedented growth in the number of migrants over the last years poses questions on how to capitalize on migrants' existing assets and resources, as well as to capture their broader settlement perspectives and integration experiences in society.  

Against this background, there remains limited data to understand the conditions that allow migrants to integrate themselves into their new communities and to inform the development and implementation of policies and interventions to address these issues.  This is further aggravated by the lack of empirical tools to examine the integration outcomes, especially for newly arrived migrants which impede the progress towards designing and implementing more effective interventions.   

Oftentimes, the integration of migrants is often looked at purely from a ‘service access’ and ‘economic or labour market inclusion’ perspective, without looking at the social and relational aspects that migrants have towards their communities. Many of the existing integration frameworks and assessment tools and studies fail to consider migrants’ existing ability and knowledge to establish themselves in new communities, a process which includes psychological, linguistic, social and political or civic dimensions, among others [Immigration Policy Lab (IPL), 2018; United Kingdom, Home Office, 2019a)].  

Understanding and analyzing migrant integration requires a holistic approach which calls for a measurement tool that recognizes the multidimensionality of the integration process. 


Our Project

IOM, in partnership with the Immigration Policy Lab, has implemented a project on developing and piloting a common and multidimensional approach to measure migrant integration outcomes in the form of a survey-based tool called the “Multidimensional Integration Measurement Toolkit.” Central to this toolkit is the “IPL Integration Index” which has been piloted in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Peru. The main goal of the project is to contribute to a more robust and comparative evidence base for policy development and regional programme innovation to support migrant integration. 

This measurement toolkit aims to serve as a core integration measurement which can eventually be replicated, scaled and adapted in different contexts by service providers and governments to build more cumulative knowledge on key conditions that support successful migrant integration, and foster evidence-based policy development and programmatic innovation.  Throughout the development of the project, gender-sensitive approaches and gender equality perspective will be mainstreamed to reflect and respond to the particular situations of migrant women and girls. 

The index is based on a multi-dimensional understanding of integration, looking at the psychological, navigational, economic, social, linguistic, and political knowledge and capacities of migrants to establish themselves in their new communities. Within the framework of the project, a set of methodological tools have been developed, over 10,000 surveys have been conducted, and a wide range of stakeholders is engaged for capacity development and partnerships. 

This project is funded by the IOM Development Fund and is implemented within the framework of the IOM Joint Global Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion. Funds were also provided by ETH Zurich and this project has benefited from support by the Geneva  Science-Policy Interface. 

More information on the Index: Brief

Development of the Index

In developing the index, IOM has successfully forged a partnership with the Immigration Policy Lab, a reputable research think tank with branches at the University of Stanford and ETH Zurich. At the outset, the project team reviewed and mapped out existing international and national surveys, IOM tools, datasets and relevant academic literature which were then used to refine and adapt the original IPL Immigrant Integration Index. 

The index had already gone through an iterative process of question writing, empirical testing and statistical validation tests through IPL (see research paper). This validation process rounds of major revisions based on workshops with experts, pilot surveys of various immigrant samples, testing of over 200 questions and 3,954 interviews, which were then statistically interpreted and analysed. The validation and testing process, however, were mainly concentrated in North America and Europe, and not in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. 

Piloting the tool in the LAC Region

The ongoing migratory situation in the Latin America and Caribbean region presented the project team with a new context to apply the index, broadening the scope of the tool’s validation. The displacement of over 5 million Venezuelans – majority of whom move intra-regionally – constitutes the largest migration movement in the Latin America and Caribbean region in recent history. Against the new trends of migration characterized by mixed migration flows for political, economic and environmental reasons, little is known about migrants’ broader integration experience and their perspectives of arrival and settlement in different facets of community life. Considering the limited comparative data and lack of empirical tools, the UN Migration Agency – IOM offers new prospects on how to examine integration outcomes and offer new approaches, evidence and partnerships to facilitate successful inclusion of migrants in their new communities. 

To test the validity and effectiveness of the measurement tool in the LAC context, a two-step pilot testing activity was implemented. The first step is called the “pre-pilot testing” which tests out the more controversial and sensitive questions of the index. Based on the findings and lessons learned from the pre-pilot phase, questions were omitted, adjusted and further improved for the next data collection activities. 

The following pilot testing phase is another trial run of the entire index before it is applied for bigger-scale population-based surveys and impact evaluation. 

After successfully conducting pilot testing activities in three implementing missions, the IOM/IPL Migrant Integration Index is fully adapted and finalized. The results of these pilot exercises, which included dedicated feedback mechanisms for both respondents and enumerators, prove that the tool is adaptable, compatible and effective in capturing the multi-dimensional integration outcomes of migrants in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) context. The index is now available on the Qualtrics platform in three implementing missions, in four languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese), and is ready for larger-scale data collection exercises. 

LAC Region

Application of the Index in Various Measurement Contexts

The project also identified two measurement purposes  in which the index would be subsequently applied after the pilot-testing – the first being a randomized control trial methodology for an impact evaluation in Peru and the second use being a population-based survey methodology in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. The casual impact evaluation of migrant integration outcomes in Peru – which entails applying the index in various interview waves among IOM Peru’s cash assistance beneficiaries – is considered the first of its kind within IOM Cash-Based Intervention (CBI) programming.

Application of the Index in Various Measurement Contexts

Contact Information

Senior Integration & Migrant Training Specialist  
Email: jkoehler@iom.int 

Project Coordinator, Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion 
Email: acedelacruz@iom.int   

Morgane REINA 
Project Assistant 
Email: moreina@iom.int  


Measuring Migrant Integration — A Pilot Tool Offering a Multi-Dimensional Perspective on Migrant Integration

Understanding migrant integration outcomes requires a holistic method for measuring it, an ambitious task that’s at the core of a project supported by the IOM Development Fund. To this end, IOM and its partner, the Immigration Policy Lab at ETH Zurich has developed a set of tools to measure integration outcomes from a multidimensional perspective.  

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