This research project:

  • Provides a comparative overview of the political regulation and increasing politicisation of forced migrants’ healthcare access in four main European host countries;
  • Sheds light on the institutional and systemic context, the preferences and interests of the actors involved in the underlying policy-making and implementation processes, as well as on norms and values shaping their behaviour;
  • Juxtaposes the positions of those making and implementing the rules with the positions of those to whom they apply, thus including both the perspective of forced migrants and of actors from politics at the national, regional and communal level, from public administration, and from the healthcare sector in the analysis;
  • Contextualises recent policy changes regarding forced migrants’ healthcare access under the impression of three major crises (the 2015-17 ‘migration [administration] crisis’, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s war against Ukraine), and discusses to what extent resulting policy measures influence public health and social (in)equality in the mid- to long term;
  • Discusses the applicability and explanatory power of established regime models (particularly of welfare states, healthcare systems, and incorporation regimes) under the impression of (poly)crisis, and with regard to marginalised social groups.

Forced migrants’ healthcare access is a key aspect of their mid- to long-term integration into host countries’ societies. At the same time, it has in recent years increasingly moved into the focus of political endeavours to keep them at the margins of society, based on different conceptions of this groups of persons as temporary residents or as future citizens of the host country. This development has intensified under the impression of recent crises, such as the 2015-17 ‘migration [administration] crisis’, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’ war against Ukraine. In times of rising societal tensions, the increasing uptake of themes such as ‘welfare fraud’ and questioned deservingness have raised the potential for politicisation of asylum and redistribution issues. In the context of rising populism and of far-right parties’ gains in voter support, policy makers have adapted their positions on forced migrants’ healthcare access, resulting in changing rights and claims in a number of European countries. These developments constitute the research focus of this project. By contextualising and explaining policy measures and their implementation at different levels in the European multilevel-governance system, this project seeks to contribute to a better understanding which policies achieve – to a greater or lesser extent – the goal of incorporation and health systems that are as fair yet as efficient and sustainable as possible.


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