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The importance of early integration into the education and childcare system to the social integration of refugees in Germany

(C) Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung e.V. (DIW Berlin)

German government’s Scientific Advisory Board for Family Affairs presents report on status of refugee families.

Improved integration of refugees in society requires more than a review of asylum procedures or of labour market developments. Early integration into the German education and care system, as well as into the vocational training system and labour market, which takes into account family structure and family needs, has an important role to play in contributing to the successful social integration of refugees in Germany.

In an expert report handed over on 8 November 2019 to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, members of the Scientific Advisory Board Prof. Dr. Michaela Kreyenfeld, Professor of Sociology at the Hertie School, Dr. Martin Bujard (BIB Wiesbaden), Prof. Dr. Claudia Diehl (University of Konstanz), and Prof. Dr. C. Katharina Spieß (DIW and FU Berlin) -  present an empirical study of the family structures of adult refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea, who entered Germany between the years 2015 and 2017.  The report concludes with several practical recommendations for Germany’s family related social policy, which support the right of refugee families to take part in social life.

Based on the large proportion of refugee families with children younger than 10 years old, the recommendations include a direct investment in education and childcare opportunities in kindergarten and primary schools for refugee children. The major significance that early years’ education has for future inclusion and the empirical findings regarding the young age of the children in refugee families enhance these recommendations.

In addition to the findings regarding the low rate of employment among women refugees, the empirical analysis indicates that this group has significantly lower aspirations to further their education or to obtain employment compared to male refugees. This leads to the conclusion that women refugees are likely to be financially dependent on their spouses. According to the recommendations, state support for refugee women and families should consider this factor when providing advice and information regarding future employment in Germany. It is extremely important to give women refugees in Germany an understanding of the possible legal implications of being employed (or unemployed), for example, in the case of divorce. The expert report further emphasises that since the social integration of women refugees through the labour market is less likely, particular efforts should be made to focus on the integration of refugee women and children using additional support systems. 

Read the full report here.