Immigration and integration

Authored by: Alex Street , Randall Hansen

The Routledge Handbook of German Politics & Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415686860
eBook ISBN: 9781315747040
Adobe ISBN: 9781317600152


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Immigration has brought significant changes to German society in the postwar period. In this chapter we present evidence on the scope and scale of these changes, and on the changes that German society has wrought upon immigrants and their descendants. Drawing on both historical and comparative evidence, we argue that integration is a process that should be expected to take place on a generational time scale. Data are now becoming available that make it easier to study integration on the generational scale in Germany. We present new evidence that the children of immigrants remain poorer and less educated than native Germans, with little sign of progress over recent decades. The chapter closes with a discussion of reforms that might improve integration outcomes for the country’s immigrants and, especially, for their children. In this chapter we focus mainly on migration to the former West Germany. Like the West, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) became home to German refugees from eastern Europe in the immediate postwar period. Additionally, the GDR recruited migrant workers from communist regimes such as Poland, Hungary, Vietnam, and Mozambique, but only small numbers settled permanently in Germany, with the result that the immigrant-origin population of today’s Germany is composed predominantly of people who moved to West Germany, as well as those who arrived after unification in 1990.

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