German: Ungenutzte Potentiale: Zur Lage der Integration in Deutschland

Germany is currently home to some 15 million immigrants and their offspring born in the country. What this means is that close to 20 percent of the population has what is known as a migration background. In their recent report, the Berlin Institute for Population and Development addresses immigration to Germany by not only stating where these migrants come from but mainly by analysing how they deal with conditions in Germany and which federal states or municipalities have proven particularly successful in integrating immigrants.

The Berlin Institute has developed an Integration Measurement Index (IMI), which was used to assess the integration performance of eight different immigrant groups. In addition, integration successes were broken down regionally – for individual federal states and larger municipalities, which sheds light on the impacts that regional economic and political structures have on integration.

Based on 20 indicators for assimilation, education, working life, and social security, the IMI describes the situation of migrants as compared with the majority German population. In the present context, successful integration means that the living conditions of people with migration background grow more and more similar to those enjoyed by the native German population, in particular as regards equal opportunities and participation on equal terms.

The migrants in Germany found, on average, to be best integrated are the roughly two million persons stemming from the other EU-25 countries (without southern Europe). Another group with good integration results are ethnic German immigrants (so-called Aussiedler), a group of some four million persons who have a right to immigrate and who presently constitute Germany’s largest immigrant group. Immigrants from these two groups tend to have relatively high educational levels when they come to Germany, and they have relatively little trouble holding their own in the labour market.

On the other hand, though, migrants from the former Yugoslavia, Africa, and – in particular – Turkey tend in part to show massive integration deficits. Roughly one half of the 2.8 million ethnic Turks presently living in Germany were born in the country. However, this second generation has made little headway in overcoming the deficits typical of the first generation of – for the most part poorly educated – Turkish immigrants who came to the country during the period when Germany was actively recruiting ‘guest workers’. To cite an example, even today ten percent of the 15- to 64-year-old ethnic Turks born in Germany have no educational qualification whatever – a figure seven times as high as that reported for the native German population in the same age class. These people are, accordingly, poorly integrated into the labour market.

Measures are urgently needed to improve the integration of the migrants living in Germany, but also to make Germany more attractive for the additional immigration it will need in connection with the ongoing process of demographic change. The report suggests first and foremost targeted support for the education system. Additional measures are also needed to facilitate the efforts of migrants to access the German labour market as well as to acquire a secure legal status, including German citizenship.

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