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RGS / Stiftung Mercator / RWI Special Event "Migration and Integration"


How can Germany successfully integrate recent immigrants into the German labor market? This currently pressing question was at the heart of the special event "Migration and Integration" organized by RGS Econ, Stiftung Mercator, and the RWI-Leibnitz Institute for Economic Research. The event, which took place on October 5th, 2016, was attended by more than 80 invited guests, with representatives from research institutes, advocacy groups, employment offices, political institutions, and employers, among others, from the Ruhr valley region and beyond.

After a welcome address and overview of Stiftung Mercator’s and the RWI’s involvement in the topic by Dr. Felix Streiter (Director, Centre for Science and Humanities, Stiftung Mercator) and Prof. Dr. Thomas K. Bauer (Chairman of the Expert Council of German Foundations Migration and Integration, RWI, Ruhr University Bochum), five doctoral students from the RWI/RGS Econ who are in part funded by the Stiftung Mercator gave short presentations of their current research. Christina Vonnahme analyzed the effects of linguistic diversity of students in the classroom on learning outcomes, finding positive effects on performance in certain subjects and no negative effects. Anica Kramer investigated to what extent labor market experience and educational attainment of migrants acquired abroad affects their wages in Germany. Her findings suggest that education exerts positive but small effects while labor market experience itself has no influence. Merve Cim presented her findings on whether migrants are overqualified for the jobs in which they end up finding work, arguing that it is less of an issue than perceived in the public discussion. Laura Janisch analyzed the impact of family policy on labor market decisions of female migrants. She finds positive, but attenuated effects relative to natives, and pointed to high obstacles to female migrants’ labor market entry. Fabian Dehos presented his work on whether inward migration causes an increase in the regional crime rate, an effect he finds not to be consistent with the data once selection effects are properly accounted for.

In a subsequent panel discussion, Dr. Elke Tießler-Marenda (Secretary for Migration and Integration at the German Caritas Association), Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bos (Professor of Educational Research and Quality Assurance at the Technical University of Dortmund), Asli Sevindim (Journalist, WDR), Prof. Dr. Thomas K. Bauer, Thorsten Klute (Secretary for Integration, North Rhine-Westphalia) und Torsten Withake (Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency – Region North Rhine-Westphalia) discussed both opportunities and challenges that are linked to a the integration of migrants. The experts agreed that, while considerable investments are necessary and patience is needed, society will achieve and benefit from a successful integration. Disagreements among the experts pertained primarily to the appropriate prioritization of integration efforts, e.g. on which educational level efforts should be concentrated. Questions and contributions from the audience enlivened the debate and added valuable perspectives. The event ended with lively discussions among the participants, accompanied by food and drink.