In Denmark, certain residential areas especially with many non-western immigrants are defined as “ghettos”. They are held responsible for making integration more difficult and for being the cradle of crime, little education, and low employment. That is why successive Danish governments have imposed a number of measures directly aimed at the ghetto areas, such as particularly severe punishments for crimes committed in ghetto areas, forced relocation, and compulsory use of day-care enrolment, as well as language testing. Despite the very drastic measures that are at odds with the values of a free society, the interventions are not based on research. This analysis examines whether there is evidence that the ghetto areas are the cause of these problems, or whether they arise when bringing people together who already have low levels of education and income, and thus performs more poorly in school or are more likely to commit crimes.
The main conclusions of the analysis are:
- When comparing people living in ghetto areas with people living outside ghetto areas, there are significant differences. Ghetto residents receive lower grades in school, commit more crime, and they receive public welfare more often than is the case for residents outside ghetto areas.
- However, it cannot be concluded that ghetto areas are the root cause of these problems. They may also be linked to the fact that ghetto areas attract residents who are predisposed to crime etc. An analysis of those granted asylum – who themselves do not have any real influence on being relocated to a ghetto – shows no significant differences between ghetto residents and others.
- In conclusion, there is no scientific evidence when it comes to claiming that ghetto areas are the cause of higher crime rates, poorer grades, and poorer labour market attachment. Hence, there are no grounds for the measures taken against ghetto areas to reduce these problems that may relocate elsewhere instead.
- There is great mobility out of ghetto areas. In a year, one in eight residents leaves the ghetto. For many residents, the ghetto is a transit station and not an end station.
- There are better solutions than a ghetto policy, which limits liberal rights, such as lower introduction wages for low-skilled immigrants, improved managerial responsibilities for school leaders, and electronic bracelets instead of imprisonment.