Integration Policy at a Regional Level in Germany

It is not possible at this stage to evaluate the measures for urban integration since they have only recently been adopted. Rather, it is the aim of this dossier to underline the need for plans for urban integration by examining the situation in each region, and to explore the opportunities, and also the difficulties, presented by scientifically-based evaluation. The policy brief also presents some examples of measures for promoting integration. First, however, it is necessary to explain what exactly is meant by integration.

How do we define integration?
When speaking of integration, it is important to bear in mind that there are numerous different concepts of integration. In general, however, we tend to differentiate between system integration and social integration. Whereas the former denotes the cohesion of a system (e.g. of a society) as a whole, social integration indicates the inclusion of individual actors in a system. Typically we mean social integration when speaking of the integration of migrants. In this context we distinguish between a further four dimensions (cf. Esser 2000):

    • Culturation (also: socialisation) as a process of transmitting knowledge. It is necessary for successfully interacting in society, e.g. the acquisition of a language and cultural standards.
    • Placement refers to the acquisition of positions in a society, e.g. in the educational or economic system, but also as a citizen. The process of placement is associated with the acquisition of rights and with it the opportunity to gain socially relevant capital.1
    • Interaction denotes the formation of interethnic networks and relations. This includes friendships, marriage relations, membership in associations or involvement in social groups generally, and with that the opportunity to gain social and cultural capital.
    • Identification

2, then cultural autonomy must be retained. The cultural and social integration relations of people to their practices, symbols and objects do not supplant or mutually exclude one another, but rather amplify the possibilities for people to live together (cf. Pries 2005).

We can therefore define social integration as the inclusion and acceptance of migrants in institutions, networks and positions in a society. The process of integration should be understood as an interactive dialectic social process between immigrants and the receiving society that spans generations. A pool of shared values and standards (e.g. the rule of law) is stressed as the basis for a multicultural coexistence.

Language acquisition (culturation) is regarded as the key to social integration in the receiving country and, building on that, the structural assimilation of national groups within the education system and labour market (placement). Placement in society is so central because it facilitates participation in social events. For, in addition to the opportunity to acquire economic capital and achieve recognition, successful placement gives the position-holder the feeling of being needed and part of society.

The demographic situation in the cities

Population structures and economic conditions in the six biggest German cities vary greatly. Table 1 illustrates the marked differences in the size of population between the cities.

The largest city, Berlin, has more than five times as many inhabitants as Stuttgart and almost twice as many as the second biggest city, Hamburg. With regard to the proportion of foreigners3

The influence of economic conditions

Labour productivity (GDP per person in gainful employment) is the central indicator for economic performance. It is apparent here that Frankfurt and Hamburg, as well as Munich and Stuttgart, are on similar levels, with the first two being ahead. Berlin and Cologne are clearly falling behind here, which in the case of Berlin can be explained by the structural change subsequent to reunification. It is clear, furthermore, that the cities are affected to differing degrees by unemployment. Whereas unemployment in Stuttgart and Munich at about 9% is significantly below the Federal average (12%), in Berlin 1/5 of the entire workforce is registered as unemployed. Moreover, analyses show that in all of the cities as many as about 50% out of those employed work in knowledge-intensive sectors. Certainly the cities differ in these sectors, in some cases considerably, with regard to the extent of occupation in industry and services. Thus Stuttgart and Munich demonstrate a disproportionately high number of people in knowledge-intensive industry, whereas this field plays only a marginal role in Berlin and Hamburg. By contrast, in the latter cities specialisation in high quality services is already well advanced. Overall it appears that the six biggest German cities demonstrate strong demographic and economic differences, which in turn have an impact on the integration of foreigners in the labour market.

On the integration of foreigners in the labour market

The placement of foreigners in the labour markets of each respective city is illustrated below by means of selected indicators.

If we compare the percentages of foreign workers in the labour markets of each city, enormous differences become apparent. Just 8% of persons in gainful employment in Hamburg and Berlin are foreign, whereas in Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart the percentages are almost double that. Naturally, this indicator is influenced by the proportion of the population comprising foreigners, respectively, and is intended primarily as an illustration of the importance of foreign workers in the cities. What is more meaningful, however, is the rate of unemployment when Germans and foreigners are regarded separately. It is worth comparing two aspects of this. Firstly, there are big differences between the cities in the level of unemployment independent of nationality. Proportionally, Berlin has approximately two and a half times as many unemployed German and foreign persons as Munich and Stuttgart. Secondly, comparison within the individual cities shows that, with the exception of Frankfurt,  the percentage of unemployed foreigners is twice that of unemployed Germans.

When comparing what is happening within individual cities, however, we need to examine the stated differences in the levels of unemployment. Thus, for example, the proportion of unemployed foreigners in Munich and Stuttgart is lower (16% each) than that of Germans in Berlin (18%). It is also interesting to compare Frankfurt and Hamburg, as they both show similar figures for the unemployed German population (approx. 10%), yet demonstrate large differences for foreigners: there are six percent fewer unemployed foreigners in Frankfurt than in Hamburg (19% v. 25%). When the situation generally in the labour market is considered, therefore, foreigners are better placed in Frankfurt than in other cities.

Average wage (per day) serves as a further informative indicator for describing the integration of foreigners in the labour market when we differentiate between German and foreign employees. The proportion of employees with secondary or tertiary education provides additional information about the qualifications of employed foreigners.

With regard to average wage too, employed foreigners fare worse than Germans. Once again there are significant differences between the cities, which can be explained, above all, by the differing regional economic strength. Employees in Berlin earn the least, on average, regardless of nationality. As might be expected, salary levels are highest in Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. In Stuttgart and Munich the relative wage gap between foreign and German employees is just 24% and 25% respectively, whereas in the other cities it is just under 30%.4 Analyses indicate, therefore, that the potential for the integration of foreign workers is highest in Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart.

What are the reasons for the poorer placement?

Education and qualifications increase chances in the labour market
Since most of the disadvantages described above can be explained primarily by a lower endowment of foreigners with human capital (cf. Granato and Kalter 2001; Plahuta 2007) and since the necessity for measures with regard to qualification has been elucidated, the question now arises as to whether the disadvantages in the labour market disappear if a person has successfully undergone training in Germany. The opportunities for employment subsequent to vocational training are of particular importance in this regard, for if disadvantages are already suffered in the transition process, then it is difficult for a person to make up for them during the course of their life (cf. Dietrich and Abraham 2005).

Figure 1 illustrates the probability of labour market integration, or more exactly the probability of finding employment after completing dual vocational training in Germany. The average rate of integration for West Germany is 71% for all trainees and 66% for all foreign trainees. With the exception of Berlin and Hamburg which have a dramatically low rate of integration for foreign trainees (37% and 59%), the employment situation in the observed cities for all foreign trainees is better than the national average and is, in addition, almost as good as that for the German group. It can thus be concluded that education and qualifications increase the possibility of integration in the labour market and significantly reduce disadvantages, and that the promotion of education and qualification must therefore be one of the central concerns of a meaningful integration policy. In order to take different economic circumstances into account, measures to promote integration must additionally be tailored towards regional conditions. Despite regulations at a national and state level (e.g. language courses and the education system respectively), there is considerable scope for urban integration measures.

Regional integration policy: the case in Stuttgart

    • Language support for newly arrived and established migrants
    • Language and education support in pre-school education
    • Equal opportunities in schools and education
    • Integration in the workplace
    • Putting integration policies at the heart of city institutions
    • Supporting integration and participation in all areas of the city
    • Living and neighbourship in the international city
    • Intercultural and international orientation of culture, economy and science
    • Safety
    • Interreligious dialogue
    • Political participation
    • Public relations.

Regional integration measures


The capacity of cities to influence education and the labour market is subject to certain limitations due to the given distribution of competence between the Federal Government, the states and the local authorities. Nonetheless, German cities and local authorities have a range of opportunities to influence education and access to the labour market. Table 5 shows examples of some central measures with whose aid the integration of immigrants and their children can be targeted and improved and which have already been adopted in the above-mentioned urban integration concepts. The measures focus in this regard on supporting language and education as well as improving access to the labour market. Since in particular the transition from school to a profession is an important and formative phase for the later professional career, efforts are being made in the cities towards achieving greater cooperation between schools, companies and the chambers of trade, industry and commerce.

Evaluation of integration policy

789 The future success of local integration policy will depend, among other things, on the successful development of meaningful indicators with which it is possible to evaluate policy measures. This should extend beyond representation of the status quo and enable an impact analysis as well as a comparison of regional integration policy measures.



  1. A critical discourse on multiculturalism which takes the Netherlands as an example can be found in policy brief No. 1 (cf. Michalowski 2005).
  2. Since both Federal Statistical Office statistics and the IAB Employment Sample only permit differentiation between Germans and foreigners, defined as persons with foreign citizenship, these terms are retained in the present policy brief. The term immigrant, on the other hand, implies personal experience of migration that cannot be identified by means of an individual's citizenship.
  3. The relative wage gap is measured in the form of the salary difference as a percentage of the wage of employed German workers.
  4. For information on the integration of immigrants in the labour market after completing vocational training, reference is made to Haas and Damelang (2007).
  5. For the importance of cultural diversity for the economic development of German cities, reference is made to Damelang, Steinhardt and Stiller (2007).
  6. Whereas in the pilot version of MIPEX 2004 the 15 EU member states were evaluated, the current survey from the year 2006 comprises 25 EU member states plus Switzerland, Norway and Canada. Romania and Bulgaria have not as yet been considered in the survey (cf. MIPEX 2006).
  7. Composite indicators are frequently used in the EU as they permit simple presentation of complex data and can be used to create rankings.
  8. According to a statement made by Hubert Krieger, Research Manager of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND).

About the Authors
Andreas Damelang is a reseacher and doctoral student at the Institute for Employment Reseach (IAB) in Nuremberg.

Max Steinhardt


References and Further Reading

    • Bade, K.J. (2001): . Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Electronic Edition, Bonn.
    • CLIP (2007): Cities for local Integration Policy, Local integration policies for migrants in Europe. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.
    • Esser, H. (2000): Soziologie. Spezielle Grundlagen. Band 2: Die Konstruktion der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt a. M.
    • Korte, H. (1987): Eine Gesellschaft im Aufbruch. Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland in den sechziger Jahren. Frankfurt a. M.
    • MIPEX (2006): Migrant Integration Policy Index.
Migration Research Group
Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V.