Category / Migration research

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  • young adult writes something on a blackboard

    Learning German

    Refugees face numerous challenges starting over in a new place. Many had to flee their homes in a hurry, so they arrived in Germany without a job or housing, and also without knowing the language. “Many refugees start out living in collective accommodations where they have little contact with German speakers. In the beginning, they don’t have many opportunities to learn the language,” says sociologist Cornelia Kristen, who is conducting research on language learning among refugees based on data from Living in Germany.

    She says that compared to other new immigrants, more refugees enroll in language classes, with almost three-quarters taking a German class. And the classes pay off. Despite starting off knowing less German than other immigrants, refugees improve rapidly in their first year and after about four years, they speak German just as well as other immigrants. These and other findings from the study by Cornelia Kristen and her team have been published as a DIW Berlin Wochenbericht (in German).


    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Geflüchtete lernen Deutsch am effektivsten in Sprachkursen

    Obermain Tagblatt: Sprachkurse sind für Geflüchtete am effektivsten

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Monstera von Pexels

  • A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf walks past billboards for some of the party candidates in the upcoming state election in Bavaria.

    Hesitancy to form party attachments

    With just a few weeks to go before Bundestag elections, Germany’s political parties are canvassing for votes. They are also interested in gaining long-term supporters. As an analysis of data from the study “Living in Germany” shows, people with an immigrant background tend to have a weaker party identification than non-immigrants. According to the study, half of immigrants report no long-term partisan attachments, whereas this is true for just one-third of the population overall. According to the SOEP research team, one reason could lie in the fact that immigrants first have to gather experience with the different political parties before developing stronger party attachments over time.

    Among immigrants, long-term party attachment differs by country of origin. Immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union tend to identify more with the CDU/CSU, while immigrants from Southern Europe and Turkey tend to identify more with the SPD. A disproportionately large number of immigrants from Western countries (USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, France) identify with Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and immigrants from Serbia identify more with Die Linke.

    Further information

    Spiegel: Wie Zugewanderte die Wahl mitentscheiden könnten

    DIW Berlin: Eingewanderte bauen zögerlich Bindungen an Parteien in Deutschland auf

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

  • young men with mask

    Pandemic Job Loss Higher Among Refugees

    Immigrants often hold temporary jobs in sectors like food service and hospitality, and many had only been working for a short time when the pandemic hit. As a result, immigrants were 2.5 times more likely than other workers to lose their jobs during COVID-19. Pandemic job loss was even higher among refugees. Researchers at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) produced these insights into the employment effects of the pandemic based on data from the study “Living in Germany.”

    One reason for the higher job loss among refugees lies in the different types of work that immigrants and non-immigrants do. Immigrants, and refugees in particular, often have jobs that cannot be done from home. According to study results, only three percent of refugees were able to work from home during the pandemic.

    Further information

    Tagesschau: “Corona hat alle Pläne vernichtet”

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Thirdman von Pexels

  • Dentist

    Job search—with obstacles

    Five years after arriving in Germany, 28 percent of female refugees and 60 percent of male refugees were employed.

    One key reason for this gap is that in many cases, refugee women worked in sectors such as education and health in their counties of origin. Qualifications earned in these sectors are often not recognized in Germany.

    Another factor are qualifications gained in Germany. Refugee women attend language and integration courses and employment counseling at a later point in time than refugee men. These courses and services play an important role in finding a job in Germany.

    The task of caring for children and being gainfully employed poses an additional challenge for refugee women who arrived in Germany in recent years.

    The researchers at IAB and BIM emphasize that tailoring policy measures to the specific needs of refugee women could help to promote their integration into the German labor market. The expansion of childcare services, for instance, could benefit them and non-refugee women as well.

    Further information

    MIGAZIN: Refugee women must overcome many obstacles for labor market integration

    IAB: Labor market integration of refugee women slower than for men

    All results in the overview

    Foto von Evelina Zhu von Pexels

  • two women talking

    Increasing German Language Proficiency and Closer Social Relationships with Germans

    Results from a study based on data from “Living in Germany” show steady improvement in German language skills among refugees who arrived in Germany between 2013 and 2016. As of 2019, five out of 10 refugees rated their German skills as “good” to “very good”. The study was carried out by researchers Wenke Niehues, Nina Rother, and Manuel Siegert from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Results also show that refugees are spending increasing amounts of time with Germans, especially in work and educational settings.

    However, older refugees, refugees with poorer German skills, and refugee women with small children need more time to build social relationships with Germans. They also run the risk of falling behind in the development of language skills and social contact.

    Study results also indicate that refugees’ social contact decreased again during the pandemic, and that many refugees’ language skills may have plateaued or declined.

    Further information

    BAMF: Bessere Deutschkenntnisse und mehr soziale Kontakte bei Geflüchteten

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

  • older woman (PoC) smiles and holds a cup

    Older refugees in Germany

    The large majority of refugees who have come to Germany in recent years are relatively young. Only about 12 percent of all refugees living in Germany are 45 or older. These individuals face particular challenges. Compared to younger refugees, they often find it more difficult to learn German, find a job, and make friends in Germany. These are among the findings from a study conducted by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) based on data from “Living in Germany.”

    Many older refugees are worried about their application for asylum (52%), about not being able to stay in Germany (66%), and about having to return to their country of origin (73%). They also worry about their financial situation and health.

    And yet, all in all, older refugees are approximately as satisfied with their lives as younger refugees are. The author of the study, Amrei Maddox, suspects that one reason for this is the older generation’s stronger family ties: Most older refugees live with family members.

    Further information

    BAMF: Older refugees in Germany

    BAMF: Living situations of older refugees in Germany

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

  • Refugees’ mental health is suffering during the pandemic

    The pandemic has exacerbated feelings of loneliness in many people. Since the pandemic, the non-migrant population reports levels of loneliness that are as high as those reported by refugees for a number of years previous to the pandemic. of years previous to the pandemic.“

    The study also shows that refugees continue to experience more psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety, than non-migrants.

    The reason is suspected to lie in a lack of social participation, since those who have a job are less lonely. Even having better German language skills or a higher household income

    Based on these findings, the research team has called for better language-learning programs and improved access to the labor market for refugees.

    Further information

    Refugees continue to experience high levels of mental distress in Corona pandemic

    Der Spiegel: Eine Epidemie namens Einsamkeit

    All results in the overview

  • young women of different nationalities

    Immigrants are becoming better integrated into German society

    Germany has made significant progress in refugee integration over recent years—in terms of employment, social integration, and political participation. In 2018, half of all first-generation immigrants and three-quarters of all second-generation immigrants considered themselves German. In the same year, 56 percent of first-generation immigrants and 77 percent of second-generation immigrants had a primarily non-immigrant circle of friends. These findings by the German Economic Institute were the result of a study based on data from “Living in Germany.” Second-generation immigrants from the new EU member states are almost completely integrated into German society.

    Further information

    Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft: Integration: Deutschland ist auf einem guten Weg

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

  • Mother sits on sofa with two toddlers

    Progress in the social integration of refugees

    Five years after Merkel’s famous words “We can do this,” there is clear evidence that refugees have been integrated successfully into many areas of German society. A good four out of ten people who arrived in Germany as refugees have found a job. Children and young people feel well integrated into their schools. At the same time, the proportion of the broader population that reports being “very worried” about immigration has declined. These findings from a study based on data from “Living in Germany” are summarized in a video by economist Katharina Spieß of DIW Berlin.

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Fünf Jahre nach „Wir schaffen das“: DIW Berlin zieht Zwischenbilanz zur Integration von Geflüchteten

    All results in the overview

  • two men in conversation

    Mentoring programs between refugees and local residents In recent years, many people have worked to help refugees find their place in German society.

    Numerous integration projects were launched in a short period of time. Numerous integration projects were launched in a short period of time. Some of these were mentoring programs, which bring locals together with refugees to help them in dealing with bureaucratic formalities, hunting for apartments, and finding apprenticeships and jobs. To find out how successful these programs have been, sociologist Magdalena Krieger took a closer look at their outcomes using data from the survey “Living in Germany.”

    She found that mentoring programs have helped refugees make substantial progress in improving their language skills. Refugees who have participated in these programs are also more likely to participate in social life—they go out to eat, to the movies, and to the gym more often. Magdalena Krieger expects these activities to have other positive effects, given that language skills and social activities may act as stepping stones to education and work.

    The mentors surveyed also reported benefiting from their interaction with the refugees. A large percentage considered the refugees their friends and planned to continue helping refugees in the future.

    Further information

    Deutschlandfunkt: Kaum Effekte auf Bildung und Erwerbstätigkeit

    DIW: Mentorenprogramme fördern die Integration von Geflüchteten

    All results in the overview

    LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

  • Shoes of a runner climbing stairs

    Refugees are physically healthier than the national average

    Refugees who have come to Germany in recent years are physically healthier than the national average and also correspondingly more satisfied overall. At the same time, however, their mental health is lower than the national average. This is especially true for refugees over the age of 45, as an analysis of data from the survey “Living in Germany” has shown.

    According to the study, refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2013 are 32 years old on average and thus much younger and healthier than the average population. However, the risk of mental illness increases with age. “This may be due to traumatic experiences resulting from dislocation and war,” says social scientist Diana Schacht, who analyzed the data with her colleague Maria Metzing. Other factors could also have a negative impact on mental health, including separation from family, uncertainties about future prospects, and limited access to the German healthcare system.

    Further information

    DIW: Geflüchtete der letzten Jahre sind körperlich gesünder als die Gesamtbevölkerung

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash