Muslim immigrants in Germany have an easier time finding a job and building a community than those in Switzerland, Austria, France and Britain.
That’s according to a new study from the Bertelsmann Foundation. The researchers spoke to more than 10,000 Muslims who were either born in Europe or arrived before 2010, which means they did not interview the millions who traveled to Europe from Syria and the Middle East during the recent refugee crisis. In 2015, Germany took in nearly a million migrants and asylum seekers.
There are 4.7 million Muslims in Germany. According to researchers, 96 percent said they felt connected to the country.
About 60 percent now hold a full-time job, and an additional 20 percent are employed part time. These rates are similar to those for ethnic Germans, and higher than Muslim employment rates in the other western European countries studied. It’s probably thanks to Germany’s booming economy. “The international comparison shows that it is not religious affiliation that determines the success of opportunities for integration, but the state and the economic framework,” Stephan Vopel, an expert on social cohesion at the Bertelsmann Foundation, told German broadcaster DW.
Muslim migrants do lag, however, when it comes to finding good jobs — they make less money than their German peers. And the most religious Muslims, who often dress differently and require time to worship during work hours, struggle to find employment in Germany. Devout Muslims had an easier time finding employment in the United Kingdom. Bertelsmann Foundation researchers suggested that that was because Britain has done a better job of leveling the playing field for pious Muslims, allowing female police officers, for example, to wear headscarves.
Critics say that the most recent data from Germany’s Federal Agency for Labor paints a less rosy picture. About half of the able-bodied employees without work right now are migrants.
The report also found that 73 percent of the children born in Germany to Muslim immigrants now speak German as a first language. (Those numbers are high in France, too, as many Muslims came from countries that used to be French colonies.) And 93 percent of German-born Muslims said they spent free time with Muslims and non-Muslims.
On education, things don’t look quite as good: 36 percent of Muslim youths leave Germany without having completed any degree. (That number is much lower — about 11 percent — in France.)
Although Muslims feel welcome in Germany, Germans aren’t always so eager to have them — about 19 percent of non-Muslims in Germany said they don’t want Muslim neighbors. Those rates were high across Europe — more people said Muslims were their least preferred neighbors than any other demographic category, including foreigners, gays, Jews, people of color, atheists, Christians and big families. (One exception: In the U.K., those surveyed preferred Muslim neighbors to big families.)
“When it comes to participation of Muslims in society, [it] isn’t as bleak as it is often presented in the media,” Ayse Demir, spokeswoman for the Berlin-based Turkish community organization TBB, told DW. “It shows that a lot of Muslims feel integrated, but there is a lack of acceptance — and that’s also our perception. Participation isn’t a one-way street: It needs to come from both sides.”