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Who is against immigrants? says the placard. Going by the new study, majority of native Germans view multicultural life positively / Photo: Screenshot/BR

Majority of Germans view immigration positively, new study finds

Despite gloomy headlines about the asylum policy debate, a majority view life with their immigrant and non-immigrant neighbours positively. The study still noted an East-West split, as well as a divide on headscarves.

People living in Germany continue to view the country’s multicultural society positively, according to a new study published by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR).

The “Integration Barometer 2018” is the first representative study on the matter to come out since the start of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, which saw hundreds of thousands of people escaping war and poverty in their home countries enter Europe.

Despite refugees and immigration policy dominating the news and politician’s speaking points in Germany, the study found that most people still think that life with their immigrant or non-immigrant neighbours is going well.

Main takeaways

  • Some 63.8 percent of native Germans — people described as not having an immigrant background — view the integration situation positively, down marginally from the 65.4 percent logged in 2015. Residents with immigrant backgrounds viewed the integration situation even more positively, rating it at 68.9 percent.
  • The study found a particular divide between the eastern and western states, with 66 percent of western Germans satisfied with the status of immigration, while eastern Germans rated it at 55 percent.
  • The study found that areas where fewer migrants live, such as in the eastern German states, there are more reservations about immigration and integration.
  • Men viewed the status of integration in Germany more negatively than women.

Solution to tensions in education

Researchers noted that scepticism about immigrants can be overcome by having more “personal encounters.”

“The everyday experiences are significantly better than what the [media] discourse would suggest,” researchers wrote in the study.

Majority want to help refugees

Attitudes towards refugees were largely positive from both people with and without immigrant backgrounds in Germany. Around 60 percent of native Germans support continuing to take in refugees, also if Germany were the only country accepting asylum-seekers in the European Union. However, a majority of them also want to curb refugee arrivals.

Split on headscarf bans

Around 80 percent of Muslims questioned in the study supported women and girls being allowed to wear headscarves to school. Only 41 percent of Christians, on the other hand, thought that headscarves should be allowed in schools. Native Germans were more open to allowing headscarves in public authorities, with 52 percent backing the idea.

Muslim women living in Germany were specifically asked in the SVR study about their opinions on headscarf bans. Out of the 29 percent of women who said they wear a head covering, a majority backed measures for them to be allowed at school and public authorities. Around 66 percent of Muslim women who don’t wear head coverings said they should be allowed.

Representative study

The “Integration Barometer 2018” is a representative study of people with and without immigrant backgrounds in Germany. A total of 9,298 people were surveyed between July 2017 and January 2018.

The results of the latest “Integration Barometer” come after weeks of far-right protests against refugees and immigrants rocked several eastern German cities, including Chemnitz and Köthen. Although topics focusing on migrants and refugees dominate headlines, opinion polls suggest that concerns about pensions, housing, education and infrastructure top the list of issues people are most concerned about in Germany.

rs/rc (AFP, dpa, KNA)

© DW

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