Refugees and migrants in Germany are now welcomed with a more positive attitude by German nationals.
The Bertelsmann Foundation recently conducted a study entitled “Welcome Culture Between Stability and Departure.” The results showed that more and more nationals are seeing the advantages of welcoming refugees and migrants to the country.
68% of the survey respondents said that immigration is beneficial for international companies that have established, or plan to establish, their offices in the country. 65% said that having more refugees and migrants in Germany could help the country with its aging population. 55% agreed that the shortage of skilled workers could be addressed by immigration. Finally, 48% of respondents believe that having more refugees and migrants in Germany can help increase the generation of income allotted for pension insurance.
The gathered results were higher than those obtained from surveys conducted in 2017 and 2019.
But, there are still those who believe otherwise. The positive side of this is that even if the majority of survey respondents think that immigration has negative consequences for the country, values have decreased nonetheless.
According to 67% of survey respondents, having refugees and migrants in Germany is a burden on the country. 66% also anticipated that conflict would come between immigrants and locals. 56% perceived that educational institutions are having problems with the integration of refugees and migrants. Although the aforementioned values are still high, they are lower than the values recorded in 2019. They were at 71%, 69%, and 64%, respectively.
Ulrike Wieland, the co-author of the study, said that “we see that one-fifth of the population is skeptical of refugees or outright rejects them. These people seem to have a worldview that supports the idea of a (far-reaching) social closure against migration.”
The only factor that has neither increased nor decreased is the worry about competition in the household sector in major cities. 59% of the survey respondents said that having more refugees and migrants in Germany could lead to a shortage of houses.
However, there is a caveat. The acceptance of skilled immigrants hoping to join the workforce or planning to study in the country is higher than that of refugees who come to Germany in order to escape tensions in their home countries. 71% of respondents are more open to accepting skilled immigrants. This is compared to the 59% who welcome refugees.
Orkan Kösemen, a Senior Project Manager in the foundation, said that “the relationship of the German population to migration has improved continuously since the peak of the ‘escape crisis’ in 2015 and the opportunities of immigration are increasingly coming into focus. This is probably also due to the experiences from the Corona crisis. Many people have experienced more concretely, how important it is that the critical infrastructure works and that we are also dependent on immigration for this, from care to the service sector to agriculture. However, it is also clear that dealing with diversity takes time. Worries and doubts are still widespread and require answers from society as a whole.”
Roadblocks to the Integration of Refugees and Migrants in Germany
There are many hindrances to the integration of immigrants into society. In particular, one of the biggest obstacles that the country faces is that immigrants are not provided with the same opportunities for work as nationals are. Many want to push for anti-discrimination laws so that refugees and migrants in Germany will be treated with respect and as equals to Germans.
There is also a lack of representation for this population in the areas of politics, law enforcement, and educational institutions. At the same time, the achievements of immigrants are not given the recognition that they should have.
Respondents of the survey believe that learning the German language is an important aspect of the integration of refugees and migrants. Not only that, there should be laws to create a more conducive environment for their integration to effectively occur.
From this, it can be said that there have been improvements in the perception of German nationals towards the integration of refugees and migrants into society. More nationals are beginning to realize the importance of working with them for the development of the country. At the same time, just as the country benefits from refugees and migrants, individuals who belong to this population should also have the political and social support afforded to citizens.
There is still much that needs to be done by everyone in society. Changing beliefs and perceptions cannot be done in one sitting. The process of building a more inclusive community of diverse individuals may take years. Nonetheless, it is an important initiative to pursue.