Selective Solidarity? What makes people willing to help refugees

Policy Brief | July 2023

Refugee migration to Germany increased significantly again in 2022. The number of asylum applications submitted by people from countries such as Syria or Afghanistan continued to rise, while from February 2022, refugees began to arrive in Germany as a result of the war in Ukraine. Against this backdrop, in the spring of 2023 the SVR Research Unit carried out a study to investigate whether the German population’s willingness to accept and support refugees varies in relation to different refugee groups.

The policy brief shows that help is especially likely to be offered to Ukrainian, Christian, highly educated women who intend to return home. However, there is a substantial willingness to support refugees in general. The difference in the willingness to help one group more than another is only marginal, and depends, too, on the personal characteristics of the respondents. Political attitudes, a feeling of political self-efficacy and trust in institutions are all particularly relevant for whether or not a respondent shows solidarity towards those seeking asylum. This means that local politics could have an important influence on behaviours; in areas where the local citizens feel that their needs are being addressed, this is likely to have a positive effect on solidarity with refugees.

The Policy Brief was funded by the Stiftung Mercator.