Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Surveying Ethnic Minorities and Immigrant Populations

Surveying Ethnic Minorities and Immigrant Populations: Methodological Challenges and Research Strategies

Joan Font
Mónica Méndez
Copyright Date: 2013
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Surveying Ethnic Minorities and Immigrant Populations
    Book Description:

    What challenges do researchers face when surveying immigrant populations and ethnic minorities? What are the best ways to ensure that general population surveys adequately represent minority groups? The first book to systematically address these questions, this volume analyzes more than a dozen surveys conducted in eight Western countries on topics ranging from politics to health. These case studies-which include local and national surveys with various levels of funding-offer valuable lessons about dealing with a range of methodological challenges.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1918-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 9-10)
    Joan Font and Mónica Méndez
  4. 1 Introduction: The methodological challenges of surveying populations of immigrant origin
    (pp. 11-42)
    Joan Font and Mónica Méndez

    Migration flows around the world have increased rapidly in recent decades. The immigrant population in OECD countries has more than tripled since the 1960s. According to the United Nations (2009), some 3 per cent of the world’s people lived in a country other than the one they were born in in 2010.

    Geographical mobility is an old phenomenon, but international migration has grown in volume and significance since 1945, particularly since the mid-1980s. As Castles and Miller (2009: 10–12) claim, one of the most distinctive traits of the migration movements in recent decades has been their global scope. An...


    • 2 Designing high-quality surveys of ethnic minority groups in the United Kingdom
      (pp. 45-68)
      Bob Erens

      Carrying out surveys among ethnic minority (EM) groups raises a number of problems above and beyond those to do with surveys of the general population. These difficulties arise because EM groups may appear with a low frequency in the population, may be geographically unclustered, and may be difficult to access.

      This chapter examines some of the key issues to do with designing rigorous, high-quality surveys of ethnic minorities, whether as a ‘boost’ to increase their numbers in a general survey or as a targeted survey among particular EM groups. By ‘high quality’, the survey needs not only to provide accurate...

    • 3 The 2007 Spanish National Immigrant Survey (ENI): Sampling from the Padrón
      (pp. 69-84)
      Ignacio Duque, Carlos Ballano and Carlos Pérez

      International migration flows to Spain have been intense in the last fifteen years. While at the start of the 1990s, the share of foreigners with respect to the total population was barely 1.5 per cent, by 2000 it was 2.3 per cent, and by 2009 it was 12 per cent. The Spanish immigrant population’s rate of increase has been remarkable compared to other countries as well (Cebolla & González-Ferrer 2008: 12). While in 1990, Spain was not even among the twenty countries in the world with the highest immigration rates, by 2005 it was already tenth in the ranking (in absolute...

    • 4 Enhancing representativeness in highly dynamic settings: Lessons from the NEPIA survey
      (pp. 85-108)
      Sebastian Rinken

      This chapter is aimed at those migration researchers who live in an imperfect world, methodologically speaking. Specifically, it addresses a series of challenges that arise when no sufficiently comprehensive sample frame is available, thus making the use of standard probability sampling either outright impossible, or else unacceptable in terms of the share and characteristics of the target population covered by that procedure.

      Such was the situation with the NEPIA survey,² the fieldwork of which was conducted in the spring of 2003 in the Southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Located at the south-western edge of Europe, just across the Strait of...


    • 5 The influence of interviewers’ ethnic background in a survey among Surinamese in the Netherlands
      (pp. 111-130)
      Anja van Heelsum

      This chapter examines whether there are different results due to the ethnic background of the interviewer in a survey on ethnicity among second-generation Surinamese carried out in Amsterdam.

      The literature on interviewer effects is part of a larger body of work on response effects. Section 5.2 first reviews response effects in general and then looks at research on the influence of the ethnic background of the interviewer in survey research (in the Anglo-Saxon literature simplified to race of interviewer effect). Attention is given to the respondents, the subject matter of the questions, methods and explanations for this phenomenon. Section 5.3...

    • 6 Surveying migrants and migrant associations in Stockholm
      (pp. 131-146)
      Gunnar Myrberg

      This chapter presents two surveys conducted in the metropolitan region of Stockholm during 2004 and 2005. The first is an individual survey with a sample of migrants and descendants of migrants from Chile and Turkey together with a ‘control sample’ of native Swedes. The other is a survey of voluntary associations organising different migrant groups from Chile and Turkey. Together, these two surveys form the empirical core of the Swedish research projectEthnic Organisation and Political Integration in the City

      This chapter will pay little attention to the issue of sampling. Thanks to the high accuracy and completeness of Swedish...

    • 7 Comparing the response rates of autochthonous and migrant populations in nominal sampling surveys: The LOCALMULTIDEM study in Madrid
      (pp. 147-172)
      Laura Morales and Virginia Ros

      Immigration flows have continued or intensified in the last two decades in many West European countries, some of which have been attracting large numbers of immigrants since the 1950s and 1960s. Countries that were previously net senders of emigrants – such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain – have become, since the 1980s and 1990s, net receivers. Together with Ireland, nowhere has this reversal of population flows changed so dramatically and rapidly as in Spain (see chapter 3 in this volume).

      The strong and sustained growth of the Spanish economy during the first half of the 2000s, together with its...

    • 8 Non-response among immigrants in Denmark
      (pp. 173-192)
      Mette Deding, Torben Fridberg and Vibeke Jakobsen

      In Denmark, as in other European countries, it has turned out to be very difficult to achieve a satisfactorily high participation of different immigrant groups in surveys. Both in general population surveys and in surveys specifically targeted to immigrant populations, non-response rates are typically relatively high, and the basic lesson from these surveys is that interviewing immigrants requires considerations other than those applied to interviewing the majority population. Nonetheless, few studies have focused on non-response among immigrants (see, e.g. Feskens, Hox, Lensvelt-Mulders & Schmeets 2007; Dale & Haraldsen 2000; Van den Brakel, Vis-Visschers & Schmeets 2006).

      The main reason for concern about high...


    • 9 Immigration and general population surveys in Spain: The CIS surveys
      (pp. 195-218)
      Mónica Méndez, Marisa Ferreras and María Cuesta

      The arrival of significant immigration flows to Spain in the last two decades has been identified by many scholars as the factor with the greatest potential to trigger social and political transformations in Spain (Cebolla & González-Ferrer 2008; González-Enríquez 2009; Reher & Silvestre 2009).

      Two traits characterise the way in which Spain has become a country of immigration: intensity and speed. This has created challenges in a number of areas, such as the design of public policies, provision of public services and absorption of a new labour force by the economy. A third trait worth mentioning is that Spain, in addition to...

    • 10 An evaluation of Spanish questions on the 2006 and 2008 US General Social Surveys
      (pp. 219-240)
      Tom W. Smith

      How much does the picture we obtain about a given society depend on whether we conduct interviews in one or two languages? This chapter provides a first attempt to answer this question through the analysis of the experience of the USGeneral Social Survey(GSS) and its incorporation of Spanish as a second interviewing language.

      The GSS is part of the National Data Program for the Social Sciences, a social indicators infrastructure and data-diffusion programme. Its basic purposes are three: 1) to gather data on US society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviours and...

    • 11 Under-representation of foreign minorities in cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys in Switzerland
      (pp. 241-268)
      Oliver Lipps, Francesco Laganà, Alexandre Pollien and Lavinia Gianettoni

      Most Western societies have seen massive international migration inflows during the past decades. Unlike the typical migrant of the 1960s, however, today’s migrants can hardly be standardised in terms of skills, gender and country of origin. This results in a high heterogeneity in terms of educational levels, social positions and gender (Koser & Lutz 1998; Kofman, Phizaclea, Raghuram & Sales 2000).

      Many authors (see Wimmer & Schiller 2002; Chernillo 2006; Wimmer & Min 2006) have addressed the issue of whether social surveys are (still) able to represent foreigners both with respect to heterogeneity of their cultural background, educational level and position in the hosting...


    • 12 Surveying immigrant populations: Methodological strategies, good practices and open questions
      (pp. 271-290)
      Mónica Méndez and Joan Font

      Our review of survey experiences that include immigrant populations has offered important insights into the methodological challenges involved in these surveys and the possible research strategies that can be developed to deal with them. There are significant lessons that can be drawn from this diverse set of experiences with surveys from seven countries, each of which had different objectives and resources. To discuss them, we divide our conclusions into the same two main areas mentioned in the introduction. First, we will deal with issues related to the definition of the target group and to sampling design and, secondly, with fieldwork...

  9. List of contributors
    (pp. 291-295)