Political scientist Dominik Hangartner of ETH Zurich has been awarded the 2019 Latsis Prize for recognition of his work on migration policies and how to improve them.
“Hangartner's excellent empirical research demonstrates what the social sciences can achieve in the 21st century,” says the Swiss National Science Foundationexternal link, which awards the prize on behalf of the Latsis Foundationexternal link. The annual prize of CHF100,000 ($100,700) is to “recognise outstanding work by young researchers under the age of 40 working within the Swiss higher education system”.
Hangartner, and his team study the effects of immigration and integration. Some typical case studies from his research include the integration of refugees in local job markets, the effects of the asylum process, and the role of naturalisation in immigrant integration, says a press release by ETH Zurichexternal link. It quotes Hangartner as saying that “scepticism towards immigration is increasing in many host countries while the push factors for migration show no signs of waning”.
“For this reason, Hangartner focuses on analysing how well laws and policies work, what effect they have, and how they can be re-designed for the benefit of migrants and their host communities,” says ETH Zurich.
For example, in cooperation with the State Secretariat for Migration, his team has since last year been testing an algorithm that optimises the geographic placement of refugees in the Swiss cantons to increase their chances of finding a job.
The experimental set-up of the project mirrors the structure of clinical trials, with a test group and a control group, each comprising 1,000 families. The aim of the experiment is to evaluate and refine the algorithm in view of using it more widely, both in Switzerland or abroad.
"We bring cool-headed analysis to a heated debate. Using data and statistical analysis, we show which migration policies work, and what could be improved," says Hangartner.