Labour Market Integration: Aussiedler and Jewish Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Germany and Israel

Research question/goal: 

The project is designed to more stringently test hypotheses concerning the focal factors influencing labour market integration, such as selectivity of immigrants and institutional circumstances within the receiving society, by strategically comparing immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel with those who immigrated to Germany. To this end, secondary data were analysed, and primary data collected and evaluated. Results: The institutional peculiarities of both receiving countries do not lead, as expected, to self-selective immigration. Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in either country are equally well qualified. However, the divergent findings with regard to their integration into the labour market in both countries can be explained by the well established social welfare state in Germany. The temporally unlimited material support provided by the state to the unemployed in Germany enables them to search for a suitable job, which leads both to a higher rate of unemployment as well as to more frequent occupancy of qualified positions. At the nation level, the following holds true: In explaining the disadvantage of both groups of immigrants as compared to Ethnic Germans regard to the risk of unemployment as well as in terms of professional positioning, it is primarily their endowment with host country specific resources (continuing education onsite, language skill and network composition) that plays a role. Comparative differences between the two groups of immigrants surface particularly under longitudinal observation. Jewish quota refugees take twice as long as Ethnic Germans do to obtain their first job after immigration to Germany; however, the positions they ultimately attain are frequently better. On the one hand, Jewish quota refugees make better use of the chance offered by the social safety net to accumulate resources specific to the receiving country than do Ethnic Germans. They participate longer in continuing education programmes and more frequently complete higher degrees or professional/vocational qualification. They invest more time learning German and even outperform the Ethnic Germans. This procedure naturally delays their entry into the job market while at the same time enabling their ultimate positioning in highly qualified jobs. The baseline differences between the two groups of immigrants continue to imprint their professional careers, since mobility between the job market segments is limited.

Fact sheet

German-Israeli Foundation
2006 to 2009
Data Sources: 
German micro-census, Israeli labour force survey, primary data
Geographic Space: 
Germany, Israel