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Occupational Classes of Immigrants and Their Descendants in East Germany

Abstract

The distinct pattern of East German labour migration is closer to the pattern of other former communist countries than to that of West Germany. Immigrants in East Germany were particularly affected by the collapse of the GDR. While the labour market improved in 2005, little is known about the development of the structural integration of immigrants and their descendants living in East Germany. Cross-sectional survey data by the Federal Statistical Office (Mikrozensus 1991–2011) reveal that even after controlling for formal and vocational education, immigrants from the first and second generation are consistently more likely to be employed in lower status occupations than are non-migrants. Although the proportion of Vietnamese in intermediate positions is similar to that of non-migrants, higher occupations remain closed to the Vietnamese. On the other hand, differences in the proportions of non-migrants and of immigrants from Poland in higher status occupations have diminished over time. The study concludes that the structural integration of immigrants in East Germany, and especially of their descendants, remains problematic.

Keywords

  • East Germany
  • Immigration
  • Occupation
  • Labour market
  • Structural integration

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Fig. 4.1

Source Mikrozensus 1991–2011, own calculations

Fig. 4.2

Source Mikrozensus 1991–2011, own calculations

Fig. 4.3

Source Mikrozensus 1991–2011, own calculations

Fig. 4.4

Source Mikrozensus 2005–2011, own calculations

Fig. 4.5

Source Mikrozensus 1991–2011, own calculations

Notes

  1. 1.

    After completing lower secondary education, graduates can choose whether to continue schooling in upper secondary education, to start vocational training (or preparatory training measures), or to enter the labour market without having formal certificates from the training system (Worbs 2003).

  2. 2.

    Furthermore, some of the presented studies used citizenship instead of direct and indirect immigration experience to operationalise migrant background. Therefore, drawing conclusions about educational success of second-generation immigrants is difficult.

  3. 3.

    The Mikrozensus was not conducted in 1992 and 1994

  4. 4.

    As an alternative classification, the ESeC-scheme could be used (Rose et al. 2010). However, required information such as ISCO-88 is not provided before 2008 and an approximation by using KldB-1992 would be necessary. Then, further adjustments of the ESeC must be applied, as its crude version would not sufficiently fit the German occupational structure (Herwig and Konietzka 2012).

  5. 5.

    General (ISCED 2, leading into VET or extensive general education) Intermediate (ISCED 2, extensive general education leading into VET or upper secondary education), Upper Secondary (ISCED 3, general or subject-specific higher education entrance qualification).

  6. 6.

    East Germany is often characterised by a shrinking and aging population leading to a smaller number of inhabitants of working age (Fuchs 2016). With a given demand for labour force, a small number of non-migrant competitors could improve the economic situation of immigrants in East Germany. In sensitivity analysis, estimates were robust after controlling for periodic GDP per capita and periodic working-age population in East Germany.

  7. 7.

    The intervals depict the three phases of the legal basis of immigration and integration in reunified Germany.

  8. 8.

    For the first generation, the risk of being excluded from higher occupational positions is considerably increasing from −0.25 in model 1 to −0.48 in model 2 (Table 4.6) once educational level and vocational degree were controlled. This could be due to a suppressor effect: In model 1, we see that the direct effect between migrant background and entering higher positions is negative but relatively small. This was already indicated by the descriptive results (Table 4.4). Here, we have also seen that the proportion with an upper secondary education is higher among people from the first generation (especially for those from Poland and the former SU) in East Germany. In model 2 (Table 4.6), we see an expected positive effect between education and being in higher occupations. While the direct effect is negative, the indirect effect is positive. This indicates suppression through education: if the first generation and non-migrants would not differ in upper secondary education, the first generation would enter higher occupational classes less often as they already do.

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Acknowledgements

The study was developed within the research project “Regionale Aufnahmekultur von Zuwanderern in Sachsen-Anhalt”. The project was led by Prof. Dr. Reinhold Sackmann. The author would like to thank Reinhold Sackmann for his valuable remarks and comments.

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Winkler, O. (2019). Occupational Classes of Immigrants and Their Descendants in East Germany. In: Anson, J., Bartl, W., Kulczycki, A. (eds) Studies in the Sociology of Population. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-94869-0_4

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