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German and UK Approaches to Immigration

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2320 words Published: 24th Feb 2017

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Over the last number of decades, migration into the EU has become a key phenomenon. According to figures from the OECD, towards the end of the 20th century an estimated figure in the region of 20 million migrants where living in the EU. That accounted for 5.3% of the total population. That figure has grown to 7.3% in 2003. These migrant movements come from various backgrounds. Many factors including political instability, media, and transport services, demographic and economic development have led to greater migration into the EU. The large influx of immigrants to the UK from India and Pakistan in the 1960s resulted in educational and cultural diversity policies to develop. In the 20th century EU countries have not intentionally “set out to build a multicultural society”. What we mean by a multicultural society is a “society consisting of many cultural or ethnic groups sharing the same space”. There are many economic and political reasons which lead to both a long term and a short term migration into the EU. Countries that saw a huge influx of migrants from neighbouring countries faced “similar challenges with regard to integration”. There was no one system by which these countries set out a list of policies to accommodate these migrants, but each “developed a different approach”.

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In this paper I will discuss the difference between two major countries when it comes to dealing with immigrants. These two countries/states are Germany and the United Kingdom. Each country will have its point of view when it comes to: education systems for both, children and adult migrants, employment systems, how they accommodated their religious beliefs. I have decided to not to generalise the EU as a whole, but chose countries that I feel have had different approach to immigrants.

All countries adhere to basic democratic values and human rights; they are also submitted to the same European Courts of Justice. By their very logic these values and rights cannot be restricted to citizens, but must generally be granted to non-citizens. The migrants have the same rights as the autochthonous, except political rights in the narrow sense. They are entitled to the same civil, economic and social rights. This was seen in the 1955 Treaty between Germany and Italy which gave the Italian workers the same conditions of pay, health insurance, unemployment and pension benefits.”” Germany never defined itself as a country of immigration. This ambiguous stance has been reflected in its approach towards the integration of immigrants.” The main migrant groups in Germany are “Guestworkers” who entered Germany between 1950 and 9175. Their immigration was considered temporary and there was “no need for integration”. The second group were “Ethnic Germans from eastern Europe”. These immigrants are of German origin. Immigrants who had “German ancestors.


A study carried out by the Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany on the 15th of May 2006 show that German schools have failed when it comes to “educating immigrant children”. The study compared the native German students to those what we consider “first-generation immigrants” between 18 countries, one of which is Germany. The results were quite unsettling as the OECD showed that, students born outside of Germany “perform well below the average first-generation immigrants” in the list of countries surveyed. This was not the first time that Germany’s education system was criticised. In 2000, Program for International student Assessment (PISA) carried out a survey in which Germany was placed in the “bottom third of industrialised nations surveyed”. The next day the results were made public. Annette Schavan, the minister of Education requested “for money to be spent on schools”. Annette quoted saying “we also need a new funding concept”. Policies were taken to ensure the development of better education system for first and second generation children in Germany. In July 12th 2007, Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed the National Integration Plan. “This plan will provide local and state officials with a federal framework for conducting immigrant integration programs”. The NIP highlighted better “educational opportunities” for first and second generation youth. It ensured that more immigrants “enter the upper educational tracks”.

In contrast, the UK has shown surprisingly very different results. Surveys also carried out by the OECD showed that first and second generation immigrant students have “on average higher levels of education” when compared to native students. However, these “educational advantages” have not resulted in successful employment for these immigrants. In fact, the gap in terms of employment for both groups is “quite dramatic” despite the fact that the same system of education is provided for both immigrants and “white natives”. When it comes to education in the UK, they have noticed that minority “children do in fact acquire a good knowledge of the English language from their peers outside school as well as from listening to their teachers”. Despite that the education system was altered slightly, whether it’s taking a decision to hold a child a year back in order to improve his English, so as to be prepared for 2nd level education or the addition of extra English classes. In Ireland, a similar method was used.


As mentioned in the introduction, the majority of immigrants in the UK in the 1960s were from India and Pakistan. Study carried out by the LFS which compares “British born ethnic minorities and white natives” showed that the majority of immigrants were able to attain jobs. This was great news but there was one problem which the UK faced and that was: the difference between male and female minorities being employed is quite big. Figures show that more female women are being employed then to that of males. The UK had to take action in order to resolve the issue. The LFS found out that the main reason for this was that most immigrants have “remarkably strong educational backgrounds”. Figures also show that employment “probabilities of Pakistanis” male was as low as 23%. The labour market in the UK was described as a “bleak picture”. The chances of male workers attaining jobs are very low. To resolve the issue, new English language schools was set up by the government to balance these figures. In 2001, the LFS showed that such action was very successful as the ratio of male to female was balanced.

In recent years the labour market in Germany for the integration of immigrants was quite similar to that of the natives. But Germany faced the opposite problem to that of the UK. Female immigrants had very low employment rates. The Turkish female immigrants, “stand out as having particularly low rates of well below 40%. Germany faced “economic stagnation” in the early 1990s. There was large decrease in immigrant employment when compared to nationals. Figures show that in 1990 there was a 10% decline in immigrant employment as opposed to 3% decline in natives being unemployed. Unlike the UK, the increase in unemployment for immigrants was not because of education but because of economic crisis. In order to rebalance the figures, a very different approach was taken. Germany had to take economic and political decisions. There was no action to limit the number of immigrants aloud into Germany but instead policies were more focused on international trade and attracting multinational companies. Between 1998 and 2000, the survey carried out by the LFS showed that there was a 12% increase in foreigners being employed.


Many people consider Germany as a “diverse country”. Many also anticipate that it will become increasingly so over time. In 2006, there was what was considered a “social cohesion” as such that German politicians “began to perceive hostility toward Muslims”. The PFRPL (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) ran a survey which showed that there are approximately 4.5 million Muslims living in Germany. This accounted for 5.1% of the population in 2013. The German society is a “homogenous” one. Racism is still pervasive in Germany. The image of Muslims after the September 11 has deteriorated as such Muslim religious believers has “trickled into the German national public dialogue” or in German Diskurs-Raum. There was a study carried by the University of Munster in 2010 found that Germans have a “worse perception of adherents of non-Christian religions” then any European country. Aggressive of violent attack on Muslims were expressed on Mosques and Muslim people. In oder to deal with this, Angela Merkel “initiated an integration summit” which opens the door for Germans to understand and learn about other religions and diversity. Many studies and research provided the natives with fact about Muslims in order to avoid any potential threats.

There are over 1.1 million Muslims in the UK in 2001. This figure has tripled over the last decade to an astonishing 3.5 million within a decade. The Muslims have been very well accepted in the UK to a stage that there are now over “85 Islamic Sharia courts”. The British law accepted the Sharia Principles. There are over 110 mosques in the UK. The Muslim population has multiplied “10 times faster than the rest of the society over the last decade”.


In my opinion both societies have succeeded in converging with migrants. The education systems were altered slightly in both countries to accommodate migrant children as well as adults. Although I think the suggested approach to allow the cultures to “coexist” would truly show that the societies in the UK have accepted the migrant culture.

Regarding the religious beliefs, the UK seem to have a slight advantage it terms of give the Muslims a sense of power. Many mosques in UK are involved in political debates as well as the fact that, some we’ll know politicians are Muslims. In Germany, there were no barriers when it comes to having permission to build mosques. A very high figure of 2,200 religious organisations shows that Germany has accommodated the religious beliefs of migrants.

When it comes to employment, again both countries have provided the migrants with suitable jobs even though they might have had problems due to the lack of the native language.

Overall most European societies have converged with the migrants.


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May, Stephen, 2001. Multiculturalism and education in Britain: an internally contested debate. International Journal of Educational research, [Online]. 35, 305-317. Available at: http://www.tariqmodood.com/uploads/1/2/3/9/12392325/multiculturalism_education_britain.pdf .

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Thomas Liebig. 2007. The Labour Market Integration of Immigrants in Germany. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.oecd.org/els/38163889.

Naika Foroutan. 2013. Identity and (Muslims) Integration in Germany. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/TCM-Germanycasestudy.pdfSoeren Kern. 2011. Britain vs. Muslim Immigration. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/2056/britain-vs-muslim-immigration


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