refugees and integration


veggies at a food discounter in Berlin

veggies in a market in Tangier, Morocco (according to Eurostat 4,255 asylum applicants came to Europe from Morocco in 2014).




A reader wrote:

If you write “most refugees are not welfare parasites” (emphasis on “most”, which suggests that the others are!) then this is in my point of view a descent beyond bar room level.

I didn’t intend to suggest that what you claim I may have suggested. That is my sentence:

“where I need to highlight that those refugees are mostly from areas with war and terror and not “Wohlstandsparasiten” (“welfare parasites”)”

includes apriori the possibility that the rest of refugees may also be “coming from areas with war and terror and not “Wohlstandsparasiten (“welfare parasites”)”.

Or in other words I find it too hard to make general judgements about all refugees, but I think it is justified to point out that a big share of refugees are people in need and that their motivation to come to Europe is not apriori to feed themselves at the expense of the host (as is the case for parasitism). And yes in fact – a lot of the refugees even directly say that they would like to work, i.e. in some sense would like to “give back”. But at this point it also doesn’t make sense to talk away problems. Like given the unemployment in big parts of Europe it is already for non-refugees hard to “give back” and “make a living”. I have myself lived for quite some time on the expenses of my husband, where I wasn’t able to “make a living” (where it should be said that it is not so easy to contain what this expression compasses). And there is more.

Europe is partially already rather densely populated, much denser than a lot of the places where refugees come from and partially some european regions lie in rather less easy-inhabitable zones (frost). An average inhabitant of Germany eats more food as there is agricultural land for growing within Germany (even if one would take out the meat then this gets already quite tight, according to world bank there were in 2012 about 1400 m^2/person and prices soar). This has to be paid for. Likewise the heating in winter. The soil in Brandenburg is partially very bad. Germany has to buy fuel. etc. In short: the essentials food and living space are not abundant in Germany.

Due to the now rather sudden new large numbers of refugees the “squeezing in” of additional people gets even more difficult than usual, i.e. for example here in Berlin new homes had to be built and according to the newspaper “Morgenpost” there was not enough control and thus there was possibly fraud involved with the housing and thus the average costs per refugee have surged by quite a bit. According to Morgenpost the absolute costs for refugees in Berlin increased within the last 4 years by a factor of 45, while the number of refugees in Berlin increased by a factor of 4 to around 12000 people/year. Or in numbers according to the newspapers citation of Sozialstaatssekretär Dirk Gerstle: since 2010 the costs increased from 2,1 million Euro to roughly 94,9 million Euro in 2014. Not really nothing for a city which has accumulated already around 60 billion Euro debts. And I am not sure but I could imagine that the costs do not include education and child care, which costs are already quite a problem not only in Germany but for example also in Kent. Let alone Greece. In this context you might find it worthwhile to read this randform post about political vs. economic freedom as a response to a blog post by Scott Aaronson.

What does this sum of roughly 100 million Euros refugee costs mean for the average Berliner?

There are about 1.8 million earners in Berlin the new costs for Berlin amounts thus to about 53 Euros per Berlin earner/year, which -if you earn around a minimum wage like with a rather strenous check-out operative work – means about one more day of your life/year sitting at the cash point plus most probably more waiting hours in city offices, more fights about school places etc. If there is no emotional component then those costs may understandably be not so easily embraced. For some better earners the additional cost may however encompass just a café latte less per month. Judge yourself who would tend to be more “welcoming” and why.

It is clear that the background of the refugees is very diverse but by listening to what some of them say in interviews I got the feeling that at least some of those interviewed refugees had very incomplete and partially very false imaginations about the place they flee to. Likewise the knowledge about the facets of oppression in the respective countries is often rather incomplete and sometimes not so easy to evaluate as can be seen at the discussions around a danish report about the situation of returners to Eritrea (according to Eurostat there where 36,925 asylum applicants from Eritrea in 2014):

Professor Gaim Kibreab, a professor of refugee studies at London’s South Bank University, was involved in the producing of the report, but on Friday withdrew his support for the outcome, claiming that Udlændingestyrelsen had misrepresented his quotations to produce a rosier picture of conditions in the country.

and the country’s representative in the Nordic countries, Yonas Manna Bairu

rejected however that illegal immigrants and deserters would be automatically imprisoned or subjected to torture. “That’s nonsense,” he said.

“Refugees say whatever gives them the best chance to be accepted in the country. We don’t have the capacity. How many people can you throw in prison?”

If you balance the problems which are to be faced for the case of return to a country of origin with those which are to be faced for the case of staying in the host country then for some cases the perceptions of refugee and host might thus diverge quite a bit.

It should also be said that Berlin has some rather long term experiences with the integration of immigrants and culturally different groups (currently roughly 30% of Berlin’s current population is either foreign or german with migration background (roughly half half)) but unfortunately not all integration efforts were a “success story” – mildly speaking. In particular it seems that there might be a correlation between population spikes and political unrest. Within the newer history especially the discussions about certain efforts in the district of Neukölln, and some of the ongoings in this context, like the controversial death of Kirsten Heisig display a bit the scope of the problems.

19 Responses to “refugees and integration”

  1. Paradox Says:

    I don’t understand your emphasis on population density.
    Germany ranks populationwise only around place 60 out of 244 countries. And last but not least keep in mind that the microstate Monaco is not only the densest populated country in Europe but also in the world and I guess you can’t say that people are economically in trouble there because of that – on the contrary ! Monaco has the world’s highest GDP per capita and this is not solely due to the Monte Carlo Casino.

  2. Chuck Brewster Says:

    @Paradox

    I fully agree with you. This is a question of finding the right perspective.

    There is a nice animation at the german Tagesschau (the main public TV news).
    One can’t link to the individual displays but there is one display, which shows that:

    Mit 2,5 Bewerbungen je 1000 Einwohner liegt die BRD über dem EU-Schnitt, jedoch weit hinter Ländern wie Schweden (8,4), Ungarn (4,3), Österreich (3,3) oder Malta (3,2).

    translation:

    With 2.5 applicants per 1000 inhabitants Germany is above EU-average but far behind countries like Sweden (8.4), Hungary (4.3) Austria (3.3) or Malta (3.1)

    It is problematic if people don’t even watch the main news.

  3. nad Says:

    Paradox and Chuck Brewster: Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately I currently don’t have the time to comment on them.
    But in the meantime please have a look at this nice visualization by Derek Watkins and maybe scroll up to 110 inhabitants per square kilometer. Please take the climates also into account.

  4. Chuck Brewster Says:

    I looked at this visualization. So what?
    I mean this is no counter argument to Paradox and my arguments.

  5. nad Says:

    As said I do not have much time to comment on this. The
    numbers change rather quickly. A report from July 2014 is unfortunately not telling much about nowadays.
    Asylum seeking doubled since last year. Not all refugees are asylum seekers. Unfortunately I couldn’t find official documents which display the current status of refugees. Usually the Bundesamt für Statistik has rather detailed numbers, but as it seems not for this topic.
    The number of asylum seekers was summarized at Spiegel as of beginning of october as around 600.000 refugees for 2015.
    It is also currently expected in the in the same article that there might be 1-1.5 million asylum seekers for 2015.
    To make calculations easy: Taking the population of Germany to be 80 million then 1.6 million means 50 population entities have to care for 1 asylum seeker, given that usually only 50 percent of the population are working/ in the working age this means that alone this year around 25 people have to generate enough income/use up savings in order to provide care for 1 new asylum seeker and it is not clear how much more new refugees are to be expected and how long this needs to be done. The how long depends on how fast refugees can generate additional income and as indicated above developping agriculture for more food within Germany is not really an option. It would help if a lot of the newly arrived could sanitarily care better about themselves.

  6. nad Says:

    In this context I would like to point out that
    German exports currently slump.

  7. Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten Says:

    I beg your pardon, but you – as a I bet cleaning-lady-employing-university-graduate can’t say yourself that you “care sanitarily about yourself.” And didn’t you complain yourself about that dripping pan? if I look at the oven in the news article about the sanitary conditions in the refugee home then this oven seems to be similarily demanding. How should the refugees help themselves with such an equipment? Politicians should provide better equipment.

    So your critisism of those stressed-out individuals is utmost cynism in my point of view.

  8. Bibi Says:

    @Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten

    I agree nad is completely out of reality and as it seems on top she is now getting cynical towards those who are really in need.

    The problem is that she spends way too much time with unnecessary things for which -of course- nobody wants to pay for, like blogging etc.

    I keep telling her she should look at her own problems, but instead as it seems she now wants to boss around refugees.

    She is – at least thats what her CV says a scientist but now it seems she had taken knitting classes.

    If she reads Spiegel then she might have read this article about socalled Bullerbü-housewives:

    Und mittendrin wir Frauen, die nach ein paar Jahren solcher Einseitigkeit wieder in den Job zurück sollen. Geht aber nicht so einfach, wenn man zu Perwoll mutiert ist, wenn man vor lauter Verwöhnen das Verhandeln verlernt hat.

    Das Problem sind Dawanda, Pinterest, Do-it-yourself-Blogs. Sie suggerieren, dass es möglich sei, mit handwerklichem Geschick ein bisschen Geld zu verdienen. Und verschweigen die unangenehme Seite dieser Art von Vertrieb. Im Krankheitsfall: kein Geld. Im Rentenfall: kein Geld. Im (zu großen) Konkurrenzfall: ach, auch kein Geld.

    translation:

    And among all – us females, who have – after years of onesideness- go back to work. But this isn’t so easy if one has mutated into Perwoll (for non-german readers: Perwoll is a cleaning agent) and if one has due to all this coddling lost the ability to negotiate

    The problem are Dawanda, Pinterest, Do-it-yourself-Blogs. They suggest, that it is possible to make money with artisanal skills. And they conceal the unpleasant aspects of this kind of sales. In case of sickness: no money. In case of old age: no money. In case of (too big) competition: Oh my God, also no money.

  9. nad Says:

    Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten

    I beg your pardon, but you – as a I bet cleaning-lady-employing-university-graduate can’t say yourself that you “care sanitarily about yourself.” And didn’t you complain yourself about that dripping pan? if I look at the oven in the news article about the sanitary conditions in the refugee home then this oven seems to be similarily demanding. How should the refugees help themselves with such an equipment? Politicians should provide better equipment.

    With “sanitarily” I was rather referring to bathrooms and toilets and not to kitchens (the article described problems there and I personally also heard similar stories in that direction from here in Berlin). I actually do “care sanitarily about myself.” That is we have no “cleaning lady”, and I had very few occasions (<10) where I had someone from outside help cleaning, and these were mainly floors and windows. That is in the last 20 years I do not recall any incident were someone outside us four in the family was cleaning our toilets, not even my mom. (Before that (but after childhood) I was mostly living together with others were we mostly shared cleaning duties). It's not that I think one shouldn't hire a cleaning help out of a principle - it just didn't make sense for us in the last 20 years.

    Yes the oven in the article has enamel, like the oven in the dripping pain post. Before I had the Juno (as decribed in the post) I was basically only cooking on these kind of stoves. I must say that the oven in the article doesn’t look nice, but also not completely terrible. It actually could look like that right ofter just one cooking session. The exact terms of cleanness can be very discussable when living together with other people. I had occasions where I was accused of being not clean enough and occasions where I was accused of being too finicky. I consider myself rather messy (although this got better over the years) but not unclean. I always considered hygiene as being important. I understand that it is very difficult to come to a cleaning agreement within a refugee home, but I think this is something one should at least ask for. Hygiene is especially important if people are living so close together and I think not all refugees are prepared for this. In the refugee wave during the Balkan wars in a refugee home right nearby the hygenic conditions there were not so good – mildly put and there was a rather severe measles outbreak.

    Considering the oven in the article- If you soak the dripped stuff right after a spill around the plate like overnight, then the dirt goes off considerably easy, because the stuff didn’t really burn in. This is different if you don’t wipe for a while. And this is different for the dripping pans as these are right underneath the burner, so these are WAY more problematic to clean.

    These type of electric ovens are not overly nice in particular it takes rather long until the plate is hot and it stays hot for a while and it’s hard to avoid that a lot of heat is unused. These type of ovens are the cheapest ones. Surely it is better to have nicer equipment, but as said I lived about 40 years with such oven and I guess one has to be bit pragmatic given the current situation. That is I do value nice and well working equipment, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, but actually especially with the tubes the quality has rather been going down. Like threads for connecting certain tubes are nowadays mostly plastic (previously often metal) and there are quite some missing useful norms (like the distance between screw holes of hanging flushing tanks is not normed). Incidentally the writing of this comment was postponed because our kitchen sink was leaking and I had to fix this. We partially self-assembled out kitchen and the sink’s tubes have been leaking the second time in ten years, so thats not too bad, but it is also not really good, they are though eventually under mechanical stress because the garbage can is usually underneath:

  10. Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten Says:

    With “sanitarily” I was rather referring to bathrooms and toilets and not to kitchens (the article described problems there and I personally also heard similar stories in that direction from here in Berlin). I actually do “care sanitarily about myself.”

    I can imagine that stories. “Refugees are not able to use toilets” and such. You forgot that a refugee home is more like a public space with very different individuals and even if you -as you claim- do care sanitarily for yourself in your home: I bet you don’t clean public toilets.

  11. Bibi Says:

    I can imagine that stories. “Refugees are not able to use toilets” and such. You forgot that a refugee home is more like a public space with very different individuals and even if you -as you claim- do care sanitarily for yourself in your home: I bet you don’t clean public toilets.

    @Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten – that was a very to the point comment !

    @ Nad: Even if you don’t answer my comments – concerning the story with the kitchen sink. you should read this:
    comment

  12. nad Says:

    For those who speak german, here a link to a german video news report
    which interviews some Syrian refugees here in Germany about their expectations before coming here. It seems there are rightous forged reports in arabic which tell totally weird stories about Germany, like stories, that as a family you get 5000 Euros as a single 3000 Euros upon arrival and such bullshit.

    Correct information seems to be not so easily available. And yes – the information on
    the Simple english Wikipedia entry on Germany could be a bit more detailled (but then I don’t know whats written in the respective language sections)….

  13. nad Says:

    update on costs and numbers:

    according to this new report the current estimations are that until the end of year there will be 1.1 million refugees in 2015 and the costs will be (now including school etc.) 21.1 billion Euro in 2015. If one takes the estimation of around 40 million workers in Germany that is around 500 Euros per year and worker extra have to be generated, which is now a factor 10 (!) against the costs in the blog article of august.
    The minimum wage in Germany is 8.50 Euro per hour, that is if a minimum wage worker would need to pay directly for his/her share of 500 Euros he or she would need around 60 hours to make that money. 21.1 billion Euro means that the average costs per refugee are now around 20000 Euros/year. Compare that to 2000 USD/year* in the jordan refugee camp Zaatari.

    Unfortunately in addition there could be other costs of a similar nature. Last Thursday the Bundessozialgericht judged like here about wether people from EU member states are eligible for social benefits or not (one of the cases was about a romanian who had sued) and ruled that being 6 months in Germany is enough for eligibility. Quote from the court decision:

    Auch bei fehlender Freizügigkeitsberechtigung sind aber zumindest Sozialhilfeleistungen im Ermessenswege zu erbringen. Im Falle eines verfestigten Aufenthalts – über sechs Monate – ist dieses Ermessen aus Gründen der Systematik des Sozialhilferechts und der verfassungsrechtlichen Vorgaben des Bundesverfassungsgerichts in der Weise reduziert, dass regelmäßig zumindest Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt in gesetzlicher Höhe zu erbringen ist.

    I can`t tell exactly what is meant by that, but this blog says it is the socalled SGB XII aid, which is not the same as the usual Hartz IV( SGBII) but if I look at the wikipedia article in terms of monthly benefits it seems to be similar (it seems to be different in terms of who has to pay). I found the notice about this court rule via this post by a commenter at Spiegel-Online who usually falls in my personal not-worthy-to-read-category. Anyways he claims that it was claimed (without reference) that the overal costs which will follow due to this court ruling are currently estimated at 0.5 billion Euros per year. He also says that the social benefits are about double of that what a teacher or industry worker earns in Romania.

    *it is however also said that: “approximately 3,000 labour opportunities are provided via short term cash-for-work activities provided by community based NGOs”, it is not clear to which extend this (and salaries from outside NGO workers) eventually should also be accounted for as “aid.”

  14. nad Says:

    Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten said:

    I bet you don’t clean public toilets.

    I actually -at least partially- do clean public toilets. That is
    if there is a paper towel I usually wipe off all that what was left by
    some of the previous “customers”. But if it is too filthy I eventually
    give up.

  15. Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten Says:

    nad wrote:

    It’s not that I think one shouldn’t hire a cleaning help out of a principle – it just didn’t make sense for us in the last 20 years.

    Why that?

  16. Bibi Says:

    @Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten

    wrote

    Why that?

    I guess this is not a survey from a think tank, but in this context it might be important to know that nad has or had no proper job.

  17. Sylvia Says:

    nad wrote:

    I actually -at least partially- do clean public toilets. That is
    if there is a paper towel I usually wipe off all that what was left by
    some of the previous “customers”. But if it is too filthy I eventually
    give up.

    Is loo roll theft a big problem in Germany?

  18. legionär Says:

    It seems the link to “population spikes” is broken.

  19. nad Says:

    thanks. I probably forgot to paste in the corresponding URL. I don’t know anymore, which exact URL it was, but it was a diagram of the population density of Germany in the 20th century. Here another chart (from this quora question.) I don’t know where the chart is from, but the one I had found for the broken link was similar. You see there are quite some spikes especially around world war !.

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