Immigration and integration: Germany debates terminology

Important and significant debate (moving towards the Canadian definition of integration):

For 15 years now, the term used by German statisticians and politicians alike to denote foreigners and their descendants has been “people with a migration background.”

That was the label given to people who weren’t born into German citizenship. And to people whose mothers or fathers were not born German citizens. Today, that applies to a quarter of the population.

After two years of discussing how Germany could better acknowledge its status as a society of immigration, a specialist commission of 24 politicians and academics appointed by the government has submitted its report to Chancellor Angela Merkel. One of its recommendations is to stop using the terms “migration background” or “immigrant background.”

‘Simply be Germans’

People should use the term “immigrants and their descendants,” commission chair Derya Caglar said. “In my case, this would mean that I am no longer the migrant, but rather the daughter or descendant of migrants.”

Caglar, a member of Berlin’s city-state legislature for the Social Democrats (SPD), said her parents had immigrated from Turkey but she was born here. “And my children, who are currently defined as having a migration background, would simply be Germans,” she said.

The German government’s commissioner for integration, Annette Widmann-Mauz, of the Christian Democrats (CDU), is in favor of the change. The term “migration background” encompasses so many groups now that it has lost much of its meaning, Widmann-Mauz said.

“Many of the 21 million people to which the term is applied do not feel appropriately described by it,” she said. Widmann-Mauz said nearly one-third of people to whom the term “migration background” is applied were born in Germany. The term, she said, gives the impression “that they would never belong here 100%, that immigration was their defining characteristic.”

Merkel: ‘Opulent opus’

Over 240 pages, the report articulates 14 core messages. Topics include social housing, greater efforts to combat racism and hate crimes, and equal education and health opportunities. In Germany, according to the report, integration is a “permanent task affecting everybody.”

Caglar said some of the recommendations would “require patience and a long-term strategy.” Others, she said, “don’t require much adjustment at all.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her gratitude for the “opulent opus”, saying it provided politicians with “much expertise.”

“As a result of the wave of immigration between 2013 and 2015-16, we have a mountain of tasks in front of us, requiring a great deal of integration work,” Merkel said. “This challenge, it must be said, will not get easier in the near future, because we are experiencing great economic tensions as a result of the pandemic.”

Merkel said recent immigrants were often among the first to feel the effects of a country’s economic difficulties. “Therefore,” she said, “we will have to pay great attention to the issue of integration and immigration in the coming years so that our efforts were not in vain.”

Coronavirus as amplifier

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, of the SPD, said the pandemic had shown how dependent Germany is on immigration. “The coronavirus crisis acted as a magnifying glass,” he said. “In many areas, we have a shortage of specialist workers.” To fix this, he said, Germany would have to harness its domestic potential for training specialists. “But, at the same time, we also need specialists from elsewhere in Europe and so-called third countries,” he said. “We see this not just in hospitals and care professions, but also on building sites and in the trades.”

That German is a country of immigration has become the consensus among politicians, business leaders and across society.

The only party to question this in the Bundestag is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is also the biggest opposition grouping. It wants to apply strict limits to immigration. Within the commission, not everyone could agree on issues of migration and integration. And the final report also reflects opposing views in the section “dissenting opinion.” This also applies to the new term “immigrants and their descendants.” Like the ethnic minorities it is designed to describe, the expression “migration background,” is likely to stick around.

Source: Immigration and integration: Germany debates terminology

Immigrants’ occupational segregation in France: “brown-collar” jobs or a Sub-Saharan African disadvantage?

Unfortunately behind a paywall but looks interesting:

Large-scale labour migration is considered a recent phenomenon in most European countries; however, immigrants have been an integral part of the French labour-force nearly as long as in the United States. Numerous studies document Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ employment and wage disadvantages in France; however, few investigate an important aspect of Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ integration – occupational segregation. Using 2011 French census data, I examine Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ occupational segregation. I find that all immigrants are concentrated, but only Sub-Saharan Africans are concentrated in low-skilled work regardless of citizenship. Department-level regression analyses measuring occupational segregation show that after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, Sub-Saharan Africans are most segregated. Control variables explain less of Sub-Saharan African women’s segregation than any other group indicating that they experience more discrimination in the labour market than even Sub-Saharan African men. Future research using longitudinal data is needed to determine if these results reflect a persistent disadvantage.


Immigrant acculturation and wellbeing in Canada: John Berry and Feng Hou

Another informative study by John Berry and Feng You showing that an acculturation and integration strategy that involves a strong sense of belonging both to Canada and the country of origin tends to result in higher levels of well-being:

Consistent with much of the research on acculturation strategies, we found that the integration strategy (in the present case, a strong sense of belonging to the two countries) was by far the most preferred strategy. This general preference for integration has been found in many previous studies (reviewed by Berry, 1997). This preference for integration is observed even when the assessment of these strategies is operationalised in very different ways (Berry & Sabatier, 2011; Snauwaert, Soenens, Vanbeselaere, & Boen, 2003). However, both these authors also found that that these differing operationalisations provided varying estimates for the extent of preference for each strategy. In the present study, even when using only the two dimensions of sense of belonging, and having only one question for each dimension, this approach seems to have provided results that are consistent with much of the research literature: integration is by far the most preferred strategy.
The relationship between the two belonging dimensions was examined by a simple correlation. We found this to be .13, which, while significant, does not indicate that they assess the same phenomenon. Berry et al. (2006), using two cultural identities (ethnic and national) in their study of immigrant youth, found a similar positive correlation between these two identities. In the 13 countries in the sample combined, the overall correlation was .17, ranging across societies of settlement from highs of .32 to a low of .28. The overall pattern was for positive correlations to be in “settlement societies” (such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States) and negative in all other societies. This is a well-established finding in the acculturation literature, particularly in traditional immigrant-receiving countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States (e.g., Benet-Martinez, 2011; Berry, 1997; Berry et al., 2006; Costigan, Su, & Hua, 2009; Snauwaert et al., 2003).
Having created these four acculturation strategies, we attempted to assess what factors might be related to each of them. With integration taken as the control, we found patterns of demographic and social factors that are associated with each of the other three strategies.
  • Those in the assimilation group: had resided longer in Canada, had immigrated earlier in their lives, were more likely to be in the labour force, had lower bonding with their own cultural community, and were more likely to be divorced or separated. These latter two associations seem to represent a way of living in Canada that is one of living alone, and not being linked to their cultural community.
  • Those in the separation group resided in Canada for a shorter period of time; this could well represent a lag in coming to learn about and feel part of their new society. Previous research has shown this phenomenon both longitudinally (Ho, 1995) and cross-sectionally (Berry et al., 2006). Those pursuing separation were also more likely to have experienced discrimination; this finding may be an example of the phenomenon of “reactive identification” (which was referred to earlier), where individuals who feel rejected reciprocate this feeling and reject those who are the source of discrimination. This seems to represent a way of living in Canada of turning inward toward one’s own group, at least in the short term.
  • Those in the marginalisation group were more likely to be underemployed and have a lower income, were very likely to have come to Canada in the family or dependent class, and more likely to be widowed or never married. This seems to represent a way of living in Canada that, while being initially tied to a family, they now are more alone in both their economic and family situation. These patterns of association between acculturation strategies and demographic and social factors are the most common ones to be found in the literature (see Sam & Berry, 2016 for an overview).

The main focus in this study is on the wellbeing of immigrants, and whether their wellbeing can be associated with their acculturation strategy, as well as with these demographic and social factors.

First, we found that in keeping with much of the previous literature, including numerous individual studies (e.g., Berry et al., 2006) and a metaanalysis (Nguyen & Benet-Martinez, 2013), the integration acculturation strategy was associated with higher levels of wellbeing (both life satisfaction and mental health) compared to the other three strategies. This remained the case when the scores were adjusted for the demographic and social control variables that also have impact on wellbeing.

Also in keeping with much of the research literature, marginalisation was associated with the poorest levels of wellbeing.

This pattern adds to the growing evidence that when immigrants remain attached to their heritage culture, and also become involved in their new society, they achieve a greater level of wellbeing. In sharp contrast, when they are disengaged from both cultures, lacking bonding and bridging capital, they have poorer outcomes.

The present study confirmed that integration is associated with higher wellbeing. This pattern shows that being involved in both the heritage culture and in the larger society (by way of integration) promotes life satisfaction.

The research carried out on the relationship between social interactions and wellbeing in a variety of samples (Jetten, Haslam, Haslam, & Branscombe, 2009; Jetten et al., 2015) provides a broader context within which to interpret this relationship: Being engaged in and identifying with many social groups provides a basis for wellbeing. This consistent finding with immigrant samples seems to be a specific example of this general pattern.

Of particular important is the finding that the effects of acculturation strategy was larger than the social and demographic factors that are often held to account for wellbeing (Helliwell, Layard, & Sachs, 2016).

Immigrant acculturation and wellbeing in Canada

Canada ranked 3rd in integrating newcomers

The Annual MIPEX (international Migrant Integration Policy Index), showing Canada in third place. Canada gets lower marks for political integration as we do not provide permanent residents with municipal voting rights. However, our citizenship requirements allow more permanent residents to become citizens in less time than many of the other countries ranked higher in political integration.

Canada ranked 3rd in integrating newcomers | Toronto Star.

France slides right on immigration

The continuing slide to the right in France’s immigration and integration policies, likely to be counterproductive in a country that has largely failed in integration.

What seems lost on the republicans, however, is that as coercion takes the place of persuasion, young Muslims are showing even greater fervour for their faith than their parents. But with a population of five million Muslims expected to near seven million in a decade or so, few politicians appear willing to defy public opinion by abandoning the stick for the carrot….

As Dominique Reynié, director of the Foundation for Political Innovation, observed in Le Monde: “Twenty years ago, Valls’s remarks on the Roma would have come from [Front National founder] Jean-Marie Le Pen. In 2010, president Sarkozy’s remarks were shocking. In 2013, worse language emanates from the Socialist Interior Minister. Almost 80 per cent of French voters agree with him. President Hollande shows his de facto support. It is a testimony to the rightward slide of the [political] landscape. All of France is hardening.”

France slides right on immigration – The Globe and Mail.

Le tiers des immigrants allophones en repli culturel | MARIE ALLARD | Montréal

Interesting. Higher than I would have thought, but interesting more of an issue for Eastern European origin than the Magreb. Macro Canadian studies show comparable levels between foreign and Canadian born for most citizenship indicators (voting, volunteership, charitable donations etc) but have not seen comparable study for English Canada along lines of this one.

Le tiers des immigrants allophones en repli culturel | MARIE ALLARD | Montréal.