Has there been a "refugee crisis"? New insights on the recent refugee arrivals in Germany and their integration prospects
Approximately 1.2 million refugees arrived in Germany between 2015 and 2016. The national and international public discourse surrounding the arrival of these refugees covers the full spectrum of opinions. These opinions range from sceptical assessments regarding the 2015 influx as a "refugee crisis" to optimistic appraisals considering the immigration of refugees to be a solution to demographic change and labour shortages. These views are often driven by ideology and emotions rather than
... rather than grounded in evidence. In this paper, we use data from a unique, nationally representative household survey of refugees who came to Germany between 2013 and 2016 to describe who these refugees are, focusing particularly on demographic and skill characteristics relevant for their successful and sustainable economic integration. We also discuss German public policies and institutional environments to promote refugees' integration. Our descriptive analysis shows that the processing of asylum applications and the overall provision of accommodations, safety-nets, and integration programs by German authorities have advanced the refugees' integration process, although the initial shortcomings have been widespread. Over the years, German institutions have generally been open to helping refugees and other immigrants gain ground in Germany. However, there are still challenges for policymakers. One such issue is the gender gap that is reflected in the support for female refugees with childcare obligations, which delays their language acquisition and slows their integration. Nevertheless, the empirical evidence has - contrary to the expectations - given no indications that the influx of refugees in 2015 led to a "refugee crisis" in Germany.