Germany's last cohort of refugees is making  uneven progress 

The biggest gap in integration is between men and women. Whereas refugee men are rapidly learning German and making connections, women are not. 

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Germany's last cohort of refugees is making  uneven progress  - NewsMavens
Wikicommons. Refugee children

Why this story matters:

The German press has recently been writing a lot about how well the 2015 wave of refugees is doing. Generally, they are integrating and acquiring language skills.

But a closer look at the data reveals that women were making much slower progress on those key integration metrics. Why? Because most of them were too overwhelmed by family obligations. They could not find time to take German classes or go to work, because they had nowhere to leave their children.

Feminist NGOs in Berlin report that their volunteers found it difficult to teach German to refugee women because they were constantly occupied with their children. In a way, what we now see playing out in the refugee demographic is a micro version of what we witness in many societies: women are taking all the domestic drudgery upon themselves while men go out into the world, receive education and find jobs. 

Clearly, the best thing a host country can do for refugee women is to is to provide them with childcare -- otherwise they have little means of becoming fully self-reliant.

Details from the story:

  • 35% of the refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015-16 have a job
  • This is a better integration outcome than 25 years ago when Germany also has opened its borders to many refugees from the war-torn Balkans
  • Most of the refugees who found jobs are paying their social contributions.
  • But in 2017 this figure was 27% for men and only 6% for women and the gap is probably still there
  • 44% of refugee men are fluent in German vs only 26% of women. 
  • 2 out of 3 refugee women have children and there is a clear correlation between having children and successfully integrating because childless women's progress in learning German was almost identical to that of men.
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