On the Current State of Integration in Germany



Complete German Version (PDF)


Integration: Mixed performance record for Europe’s number one immigration country


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. But where do these migrants come from, how do migrant groups with different backgrounds come to terms with conditions in Germany, and which German states or municipalities have proven particularly successful in integrating immigrants?


To find answers to these questions, the Berlin Institute for Population and Development 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. This enables us to learn more about 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 whatsoever – 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.
Looked at in regional terms, integration tends generally to work out better in places where there is demand in the labour market for large numbers of workers. Conversely, integration problems tend to occur in places that are home to large numbers of low-skilled workers with migration background. This is the reason why the states of Hesse and Hamburg show relatively good results for integration, while the values found for the Saarland are particularly low. Looking at German cities, we find that Munich, Frankfurt/Main, Bonn, and Düsseldorf do quite well, while the most adverse conditions for migrants are found in Ruhr region cities like Duisburg or Dortmund as well as in Nuremberg. However, even in the regions with the best results, migrants are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as native Germans, and these persons are also more than two times more likely to be dependent on public social transfers.


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. One crucial aspect here is 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.


You can view the German version of the complete study here (PDF MB).



A contested issue

The rise in international opposition to the right to sexual self-determination

Destination Europe?

The future of global migration

Africa’s Demographic Trailblazers

How falling fertility rates accelerate development

From Land of Famine to Land of Hope

Will Ethiopia Become a Model for an African Upswing?

Europe's Demographic Future
- Growing Regional Imbalances (2008)

with Howard Duncan, Metropolis, Ottawa, Canada
"The German public needs to be assured by the government that migration is
in their interest"

with Debito Arudou, Hokkaido Information University
"As a foreigner, you are only ever a guest in Japan"

in the Online Handbook Demography

  • Environmental Migration
  • Towards a new European Policy on Migration
reviewed by Margret Karsch

Sigrid Metz-Göckel et al.: Migration and mobility in an enlarged Europe. A gender perspective