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 enters its fourth year of funding in 2023 and has recently been granted an extension of funding for two additional years. Currently, we are analysing the survey data collected in the second year, focussing on two questions: (1) Has the German public a biased perception of the integration of different migrant groups? (2) Do these perceptions affect the preferences of the German population regarding migrants’ access to social benefits? One paper on migrants’ access to pension benefits is currently under review; two other working papers on the legitimacy of the migrant wage gap and on migrants’ access to social assistance will be submitted in 2023. Furthermore, one paper on attitudes towards affirmative action policies was published in 2022 and another on this topic is under review.

Fact sheet

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