1.5.2010 | Von:
Susanne Worb


Integration reporting in Germany is currently a very diverse and heterogeneous field. This reflects firstly the historic fragmentation of responsibilities in the area of integration policy between the municipal, state (Länder) and federal level and, secondly, the different needs to which the monitoring systems are a response.

For example, a municipality may be interested in socio-spatial matters (segregation, urban development) and afford such matters considerable attention in its reporting, building on locally available data. On the state level, by contrast, such topics may well play no part because they are not immediately politically explosive or because relevant data are missing.

Against this background, it remains to be seen how far the various federal levels in Germany can in future agree on joint standards and indicators for measuring integration. Despite differences with regard to data and political interests in the design of monitoring systems, there are clear moves towards a networking between actors. Especially at the federal state and Federal Government level the question of international adaptability also arises (see the references to current developments at the European level in the introduction). Here the development and implementation of joint indicator systems is considerably more difficult since different national traditions of data collection clash with one another and also since institutions with considerable influence on the integration of immigrants – such as the education and training systems – are fundamentally different in structure [1].

There is often an expectation that monitoring is able to provide immediate information as to whether the selected integration policy is successful. Any link between integration monitoring and an evaluation as to the effectiveness of political measures should, however, be regarded as problematic. It is, of course, natural that political actors should be interested in the results of measures for promoting integration that they have financed. However, the first EU handbook on integration has already indicated that "outcome indicators do not necessarily answer the question whether and to what extent policy measures actually have an impact on immigrant integration. Immigrants may succeed in integrating independently of, or even despite government policy" [2]. This can be illustrated by means of an example: if the labour participation rate of migrants rises over a specific period, then this may be the result of a general economic recovery and associated improvements in the labour market (which should then also affect the labour force participation of natives), or alternatively the result of a labour market policy programme targeting migrants. In this case, integration monitoring can observe an improvement but cannot provide evidence as to the underlying causes and their relative weight. The measurement of the effects of specific integration measures requires tailored evaluation [3].

An important issue is the differentiation between groups according to their country or region of origin. Essentially in Germany this point concerns migrants of Turkish origin who are attested poor integration results. Ultimately, the question is just what does "origin", i.e. a particular nationality or particular migration background, stand for? For individual migration history and social structures of groups? For different legal positions that have an influence on the chances of integration? For (elusive) cultural differences, perhaps regarding the value placed on education?

To a certain extent all of these answers are right but they do not represent a complete truth. "Origin" is a collective term for a large number of factors that influence integration. If, however, we dispense entirely with the various forms of differentiation, a great deal of information is lost. Any integration monitoring will lose much of its information value if it relates only to large heterogeneous groups such as "foreign nationals" or "persons with a migration background". To avoid this, it would be sensible to at least provide information about the most important groups of origin and combine this with an analysis of socio-demographic factors, social background and/or social milieus (cf. the approach of the SINUS Institute [4]). A "balanced interweaving of statements about groups of origin and social milieus" [5] of the kind promoted by the Expert Council of German Foundations for Integration and Migration, is, however, very difficult to put into practice and would require new methods of data collection and analysis.

In summary, it can be seen that integration monitoring as a new branch of social reporting in Germany is still at an early stage of development. Various problems still need to be resolved, but this field of work also offers a great deal of potential for the future. Integration monitoring is no "craze for measuring" migrants, as the professor of education Franz Hamburger [6] polemically expresses it, but can – when sensibly carried out – reflect the state and development of integration processes and help to make informed decisions with regard to integration policy. That said, the point of criticism levelled by Hamburger and others [7] is apt: the receiving society must be taken into consideration far more than to date if integration is not to be perceived unilaterally as an adjustment to be made by migrants.


Heckmann (2001).
Niessen/Schibel (2005: 57).
Filsinger (2008).
Wippermann/Flaig (2009).
Sachverständigenrat (2009: 2).
Hamburger (2009).
Kunz (2009), Sachverständigenrat (2009).



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