Covid-19 hampers integration

While precarious working and living conditions increase the risk of infection, opportunities for integration are lost. Also, the number of asylum applications has decreased significantly.

21.07.2020 · Economics, Social Sciences, Spatial Research · ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich · News · Research result

The COVID-19 pandemic has far-reaching implications for migration. Compared to the same period last year, the number of first-time asylum applications in Germany decreased by 35.1 percent in March 2020 and by 51.3 percent in April 2020. “This decline is attributable to restrictions imposed on entry to the country and the closure of embassies and visa offices,” says ifo researcher Yvonne Giesing in an article for ifo Schnelldienst. Moreover, she adds, the pandemic negated the effect of the Immigration of Skilled Workers Act, which came into force in March 2020.

Migrants and refugees in Germany are facing major challenges as a result of the pandemic. During the lockdown, precarious working and living conditions mean the risk of infection is increased and opportunities for integration are lost. “Accommodating refugees in mass housing is neither hygienic nor useful from an integration policy perspective. The government should provide refugees with decentralized accommodation and try to offer them online integration and German courses so that any progress they’ve made with integration so far is not undone,” says Maria Hofbauer Pérez, ifo researcher and co-author of the article.

However, the COVID-19 crisis is also an opportunity for migrants and refugees to gain considerably more recognition for their contribution to the functioning of our society. Of all employees subject to social insurance contributions, a total of 15.2 percent of key workers have foreign citizenship. This corresponds to an absolute number of almost 2 million employees subject to social security contributions in Germany. “Many of these people currently work in jobs considered essential services, which have been attributed great importance and been in higher demand in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Giesing says.

Original publication

Wie wirkt sich Covid-19 auf Migration und Integration aus?“ von Yvonne Giesing und Maria Hofbauer Pérez in: ifo Schnelldienst 7/2020.

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