German Refugees in the Trap of Poverty

Women Holding Posters on Activism

A survey found that black, Muslim, and Asian people in Germany are at a higher risk of poverty. Even a good education doesn’t make a significant difference – reports.

Racism is rampant in Germany. But what exactly does this mean for the people affected? The German Center for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM) in Berlin has released a study titled “Limits of Equality Racism and the Risk of Poverty” demonstrates a link between racism and the risk of poverty.

“If you look at the official statistics or the federal government’s poverty and wealth reports, data is mostly broken down by migration background and whether you have German citizenship,” Zerrin Salikutluk social scientist from the National Discrimination and Racism Monitor said. “What we haven’t been able to say so far is how people who are affected by racism in Germany are really faring,” she stated to DW.

Discrimination Among the Poor and Migrants

The researchers discovered discrimination in the education system, the labor market, the housing market, and the healthcare sector. Previous research revealed that people with a migration background frequently face discrimination when looking for work. This increases the likelihood of having to live below the poverty line.

In Germany, people are considered poor if their income is less than 60 percent of the statistical average. In 2023, this amounted to €1 310. When asked about their monthly income, 5 percent of Germans without a migration background who worked full-time said it was below the poverty line. However, that figure increased to 20 percent among Black, Muslim, and Asian respondents.

The figures were similar for respondents with a high level of education or vocational accomplishments: People who experienced racist discrimination were two to seven times more likely to face financial difficulties.

Refugees are More at Risk of Poverty

Muslim men were the most likely to be poor, accounting for 33 percent. According to researcher Salikutluk, this is due to the large number of Muslim men among refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2013. Around 20 percent of Muslim respondents to the discrimination survey came from Syria and Afghanistan, two countries devastated by war and poverty. “And we already know that refugees are more at risk of poverty due to their limited access to the labor market, for example,” Salikutluk said.

Even people with foreign roots who have lived in Germany for a long time, were born there, or have German citizenship face discrimination. Salikutluk refers to experiments in which identical application documents were sent out under different names. The outcome: “People who have a Turkish-sounding name, for example, have a smaller chance of being invited to a job interview,” she stated.


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