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Impact of Discrimination on Integration of Emigrants From the Aggressor Country (with Ivetta Sergeeva)

Using results from a large scale panel survey of Russian migrants, this talk will discuss the effect of discrimination on the assimilation intentions of Russian migrants, focusing on language learning as a key indicator.

Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, up to one million Russians fled their homeland, marking the most significant brain drain since the Soviet Union’s collapse. While some host countries view the highly educated and politically active migrants as an asset, integrating nationals of the aggressor state has presented challenges. Many migrants face institutional restrictions aimed at sanctioning Russia, alongside varied experiences of discrimination from local populations. This study delves into the effect of discrimination on the assimilation intentions of Russian migrants, focusing on language learning as a key indicator. Laitin’s model of identity building suggests that migrants’ willingness to assimilate depends on the perceived benefits, including acceptance by the host society. Following the model, Sergeeva assumes that discrimination signals to migrants that the host country’s society does not accept them, making learning the local language a less rational choice.

Utilizing a cross-sectional panel survey, the study establishes a link between discrimination and integration, differentiating between the effects of discrimination experienced from local citizens and local institutions on language acquisition. Findings reveal that societal discrimination significantly dampens migrants’ willingness to learn local languages and diminishes their trust in and attachment to host societies, unlike institutional discrimination, which shows no such effect on language learning. These insights contribute to an understanding of the impact of nationality-based discrimination, highlighting the role of societal acceptance in the successful integration of political migrants.

This event will be hosted in person and virtually on Zoom. Register for the Zoom meeting here. Non-NYU affiliates must RSVP for in-person campus access. 

Ivetta Sergeeva is a PhD candidate at the European University Institute in Florence. She specializes in political behavior, civil society, and Russian emigration. She is a co-founder and co-principal investigator of OutRush and ViolenceMonitor (a series of surveys on intimate partner violence in Russia). She also has eight years of experience supervising projects in civil society and human rights organizations in Russia. Website: Email:

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