Precarious employment – precarious participation. Foreign workers in the German low-wage sector

Study | June 2023

Foreign workers have played an indispensable role in numerous sectors of the German economy for many years. This also applies to sectors in which precarious low-paid employment under harsh working conditions is often the rule rather than the exception. The SVR has carried out a qualitative interview study on the causes and effects of the precarious labour market conditions experienced by foreign workers. The study provides practice-oriented recommendations for action by government, business and civil society.

Climate change and migration: What we know about the connection and what options there are for action

Annual Report | May 2023

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity. The consequences of global warming are multi-layered. Climate change-induced alterations in the environment and extreme weather events exacerbate not only existing social, economic and political pressures, but also increase the pressure to migrate. Climate change-induced migration is on the rise.

In its fourteenth Annual Report, the SVR analyses how climate change is influencing global, regional and local migration patterns and the urgent need for governments and policy-makers to respond.

In terms of practical politics, the SVR recommends using the entire spectrum of migration policy instruments. This includes measures adopted from refugee policies such as granting humanitarian visas, temporary legal protection or the suspension of repatriations to affected countries and regions, along with approaches from the field of migration policy, such as regional agreements on the free movement of persons. Further, the SVR proposes three innovative instruments: a climate passport, a climate card and a climate work visa. In adopting these instruments, the German Federal Government could assume a pioneering role in international responses to climate change and migration. The measures recommended by the SVR must be understood as building blocks in a greater overarching strategy comprising all tiers of politics, the economy and society. Such a strategy requires coordinated action that transcends departmental boundaries.

Living without a passport: The situation of stateless people in Germany

Policy Brief | May 2023

For most people, having a nationality is a matter of course. It links them to a particular state through a set of rights and obligations and gives them the protection of that state. People who are stateless or whose nationality is undetermined have correspondingly fewer rights. Especially in the context of refugee immigration since 2014, the phenomenon has gained in importance: in 2022, around 29,500 stateless persons and around 97,000 persons with an unclear nationality were living in Germany - twice as many as in 2014. Knowledge about these groups has so far been limited; they barely play a role in the public and political debate. This is despite the fact that they are a particularly vulnerable group and statelessness is considered internationally as undesirable.

The Policy Brief takes a first look at these groups and examines their socio-demographic composition as well as their legal situation in Germany. It shows that around one-third of those with an unclear nationality were already born in Germany; for the group of stateless persons, the number was 16 per cent. Two-thirds of the stateless persons and more than half of those with undetermined nationality have been living in Germany for more than six years; many have either only a temporary residence title or no residence title at all. Overall, it is clear that the barriers to recognition of statelessness are very high, as there is no transparent and systematic determination procedure.

The Policy Brief was funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

2022 Integration Climate: Slightly More Positive, With a Few Exceptions

SVR Report | December 2022

The SVR’s Integration Barometer measures the “integration climate” in Germany’s immigration society and captures the population’s perceptions of and attitudes towards integration and migration. This fourth nationwide survey, which had more than 15,000 respondents, is representative of people with and without a migration background at both the national and regional level. At the national level the survey is also representative of various groups of origin.

The integration climate has proved to be extraordinarily stable. A slightly more positive trend can be made out across all groups of origin when findings are compared to those of the previous survey conducted in 2019/20. The Integration Climate Index rose from 66.3 to 68.5 points. The increase over the last two years was especially notable among people without a migration background – it grew by 2.5 points to 68.1. The Integration Climate Index among people with a migration background rose by 1.3 points to a total of 70.1.

Integration legislation at the federal state level: An updated review – and lessons learnt for the federal government

Study | November 2022

Germany’s federal states have wide scope when it comes to drafting legislation on integration policy. Over the past 10 years, five of them have used this leeway to adopt laws on integration and participation, two of which have already undergone wide-ranging reform. Other federal states are in the process of drafting such legislation. The federal government’s coalition agreement makes provision for a federal act on the integration and participation of people with a migration history. Against this backdrop, the SVR’s scientific staff, working on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community, updated a Policy Brief on integration policy legislation at the federal state level that was first published in 2017. A comparison of the applicable regulations in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein shows that laws on integration and participation can not only give integration policy a symbolic boost, but can also have a steering effect, because they both enshrine basic principles in law and establish or strengthen coordination and cooperation structures. Their effectiveness is determined by both how they have been drafted and how they are implemented. From its analysis of federal state legislation the study also extrapolates ideas for the planned federal act on integration and participation.

Seeking a partner? The state and migrant umbrella organisations in integration policy

Policy Brief | November 2022

Migrant organisations have established numerous umbrella organisations across Germany which are both evolving rapidly and regarded as key partners of integration policy. And yet, there are still many knowledge gaps when it comes to the relationship between the state and migrant umbrella organisations. The Policy Brief investigates these migrant umbrella organisations’ social roles and functions and how they fit into the organisational landscape of interest groups as a whole. They do not constitute a homogeneous organisational form, but differ in terms of what they offer and in respect of their (integration policy) representation claims. Each organisation’s particular focus has a bearing on its relationships with the realms of politics and administration. This publication prepares the ground for a broader-based research project on migrant umbrella organisations at the federal level and their relationships with state actors.

Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attitudes in an immigration country – (not) an exceptional case?

Study | October 2022

Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attitudes in Germany have been the subject of public and political debate for years. Such attitudes are divisive and undermine social cohesion. More politically motivated crimes of this nature have also been registered recently. The study shows that anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attitudes are not marginal phenomena. They are widespread among both people with and without a migration background. The evaluation of data from the SVR Integration Barometer 2020 shows that such attitudes are primarily related to characteristics such as educational biography, intercultural contacts and social class, or issues such as experience of discrimination and religious affiliation. Against this background, the SVR's scientific staff have developed recommendations for (integration) policy action, taking particular account of options at the municipal level, in educational institutions and religious communities.

A turning point in labour market integration? Participation and precariousness: Ukrainians in the German labour market

Policy Brief | August 2022

Before the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, Ukrainians working in Germany were often employed under precarious working conditions in the legal niche and grey zone of the low-wage sector. The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive granted temporary residence permits to all Ukrainian refugees in Germany. As a result, they have immediate access to the labour market, qualify for employment promotion measures and are eligible for the benefits provided under Germany's basic income support system. The Policy Brief examines the extent to which the realities of labour migration and forced displacement expose people from Ukraine to the risk of precarious working and living conditions. The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive and the switch to the German basic income support system have removed many of the key legal limitations on participation for Ukrainian refugees. However, this does not mean that the structural barriers to participation that exist in the labour market and in bureaucratic practice have been overcome. The risk of precarious working and living conditions remains.

Refugees as new citizens – the potential in the coming years

Policy Brief | June 2022

More and more of those who sought refuge in Germany in 2015/16 and who are now well integrated in society are applying for naturalisation. A total of 19,100 Syrian nationals were issued with a German passport in 2021, up almost three times compared to the previous year. As part of a research project the scientific staff of the Expert Council on Integration and Migration (SVR) projected the number of naturalisations by Syrian nationals in the coming years. According to those projections there is expected to be a considerable uptick in the years up until 2024 – provided the authorities are able to process a large number of applications without massive delays. The policy brief discusses concrete forecasts and addresses those steps that need to be taken to avoid both a “naturalisation backlog” and disappointing potential new citizens. Recruiting additional staff in the relevant authorities is key, but the digital transformation also has the potential to meet the mounting interest in naturalisation.

New Diaspora? Joint action and transnational networks of Afghan and Syrian communities in Germany

Policy Brief | June 2022

The number of people from Afghanistan and Syria living in Germany has risen sharply in the past decade as a result of refugee arrivals. Both communities are young and heterogeneous, and most of their members will remain permanently in Germany. With them, new diaspora organisations have emerged. They are mainly involved in humanitarian, social or political activities for the respective country of origin or for their communities in Germany. The Policy Brief summarises current facts and figures on the Afghan and Syrian population in Germany and presents initial findings regarding the structures and activities of their diaspora organisations drawing on two expert papers. The publication is part of a comprehensive research project. As part of the project, the academic staff of the Expert Council on Integration and Migration (SVR) is analysing the civil society activism and transnational engagement of the Afghan and Syrian communities in Germany and resulting socio-political opportunities and challenges.