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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 1 .

Immigrants and the Informal Economy in Southern Europe
Martin Baldwin-Edwards & Joaquin Arango eds.

(London: Frank Cass, 1999)
216pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.: £35.00 ISBN 0-7146-49252. Pb.: £16.50 ISBN 0-7146-44846.

In the last two decades Southern Europe has been transformed from a region of emigration to a region of immigration. The relatively large sectors of informal economy in countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal have attracted an estimated 3 million non-EU immigrants - many of whom enter and/or work illegally. Accordingly, this sort of immigration is difficult to control and the immigrants themselves have no social and few legal rights.

This book aims to give a comparative analysis of illegal immigration in Southern Europe and the political responses employed by the receiving states. The brief introductory chapter by Baldwin-Edwards, is followed by Jahn and Strubhaar's general analysis of the economics of illegal migration. In both chapters it is argued that illegal work of foreigners is best countered by making European labour markets work more efficiently. Baldwin-Edwards urges that a reconsideration of the state looks like the only solution, while Jan and Straubhaar advocate for the introduction of more flexible terms for employment of workers as well as reduced income tax and social security contributions by employers. The following 9 detailed studies of the situation in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece illustrate the complexity of these issues. The chapters vary in focus and level of analysis. For each country there are chapters giving accounts of developments in political measures aimed at curbing or legalising illegal immigration. These analyses are complemented by chapters on the situation of the immigrant workers and their plight. Some chapters are sector specific, such as Giovanna Campani's analysis of illegal immigrant prostitutes in Italy or Jorge Macaista Malheiros chapter on the construction sector in Lisbon.

As pointed out in several chapters of this volume, the growing anti-immigrant sentiment throughout Southern Europe is directed at illegal immigrants in particular. However, policy measures largely illustrate the 'ostrich-like' unwillingness or incapability of governments to deal with these issues in an effective manner. The book would have benefited from more substantial concluding remarks from the editors. And, given the intensified co-operation on illegal immigration control within Schengen and the EU, it seems strange that the EU dimension and its impact on policy-developments in Southern Europe is more or less absent in most chapters and not included in the introduction in a systematic manner. Yet, overall this book is an important contribution to the understanding and ongoing discussion of these very important and politically sensitive issues

Dr. Eva Østergaard-Nielsen
London School of Economics and Political Science

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