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Two women, one wearing a headscarf, share a pot coffee
Religion takes a backseat to other social factors when it comes to integrationImage: dpa

Cultural Identity

DW staff (win)
October 16, 2007

After getting mediocre grades for integrating foreigners, German officials on Tuesday, Oct. 16, presented a unique study on the social environments of migrants in Germany that they say will help improve the situation.


The study is the first of its kind worldwide because it focuses on the current social environments of migrants rather than their backgrounds, said Deputy Family Minister Gerd Hoofe, who presented the report on Tuesday.

While factors such as ethnicity, religion and migration history do play a role for migrants, their current social environments are much more important in term of people's identity, Hoofe said.

The report is based on 104 extensive interviews and has distinguished eight migrant social environments, ranging from "religiously rooted" and based on conservative, strict moral values to "intellectual cosmopolitan" environments with an open-minded, tolerant attitude.

While Hoofe said that detailed results of the study will not be ready until next summer, he added that the report "does away with negative cliches about migrants that exist in this country."

"Migrants are definitely ready to integrate, but they also do not want to forget their roots," he said, adding that the level of education and urbanity played a role as well.

Bodo Flaig, a psychologist in charge of the study, added that the new research definitely showed that migrants' lives were not dominated by religion.

Merkel: Migrant kids neglected in schools

Children of various ethnic origins in kindergarten
Germany has received poor marks for the opportunities on offer children of non-German originImage: dpa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile said Tuesday that Germany had to take steps to make educational success less dependent on social backgrounds.

"We cannot neglect a single talent," the chancellor said during a conference on integration and education in Berlin, adding that children of migrant families were particularly disadvantaged in Germany.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the German school system ranks last among those of 17 industrialized nations when it comes to supporting migrant children.

Germany's mediocre integration policies

Participants of the integration summit with leading politicians
An annual integration summit is designed to promote dialogueImage: AP

On a European level, Germany ranks in mid-field when it comes to integrating foreign workers, according to a study released on Monday. It came in at No. 14 out of 28 countries studied for the Migration Integration Policy Index (MPIEX).

Sweden was found to be the best at helping immigrants feel welcome, while Latvia scored the worst.

Taken as a whole, the 25 EU countries included in the study (all of the 27 EU member states except Bulgaria and Romania) scored an overall average of 53 percent.

Generally, the study found that EU countries are good at helping immigrants become long-term residents, but do not make it easy for them to become full-fledged citizens.

The study's authors said they did not want to engage in a "name and shame" exercise and instead called on national governments to use their findings as an instrument to guide their future integration policies.

Europe has an estimated 20 million legal immigrants.

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