Integration of Migrants and Attitudes Towards the Welfare State

Research question/goal: 

Against the background of the strong immigration to Germany, the role of the welfare state and its legitimacy have been the subject of heated debates over the last years. On the one hand, social policy helps integrate migrants into the labour market and the society and thus contributes to the stabilization of the social security systems. On the other hand, migration can undermine the legitimacy of the welfare state if the local population is hostile towards a redistribution in favour of migrants and worried about a higher financial burden due to the costs of immigration.

The research group therefore aims to analyse the following questions: (1) How do social policy and new immigration waves shape the integration of migrants who have already arrived? (2) How does the perceived integration of migrants change the attitudes towards the welfare state? (3) How do the perceived and the actual integration interact in different social policy areas. The project goes beyond existing research by differentiating between different groups of migrants and local people and by considering multiple dimensions of integration. We combine the analysis of representative micro data sets with experimental survey designs. Based on these results, we aim to develop scientifically sound and practicable recommendations for a sustainable social policy in Germany that is able to provide security for communities in need of protection and to offer new opportunities without jeopardising its own acceptance.

The multidisciplinary project at the interface of economics, sociology and political science brings together the competences of different scientific institutions located in Mannheim, with a close cooperation of the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES). The junior research group also includes ZEW researchers Martin Lange, Paul Berbée and Katia Gallegos Torres. The research group is accompanied and supported by a scientific advisory board of national and international experts.

Current stage: 

The project is in its second year of project funding. The repeat survey was conducted in spring 2021. Of those surveyed in December 2020, 2,380 respondents (out of just over 3,000 respondents from wave 1) participated. With the second wave, we finished our data collection in this project. Our research with this data has focused on two questions: (1) How does the population in Germany perceive different migrant groups (i.e., both their numbers and how well they are integrated)? (2) Does the German population perceive it as fair that migrants earn less for the same work (migrant wage gap)? Two working papers based on these results are in preparation and were presented at conferences and workshops in 2021.

Fact sheet

BMAS Fördernetzwerk FIS
2019 to 2025
Data Sources: 
Secondary data analysis and own survey
Geographic Space: