German skepticism about migration has declined but remains high: survey

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-29 23:33:11|Editor: yan
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BERLIN, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Germans viewed migration "with skepticism and pragmatism" and although skepticism had declined since the "turbulence" of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, it still remained high, according to a study published by the Bertelsmann Foundation on Thursday.

Two-thirds of Germans surveyed were of the opinion that immigrants were welcome in Germany, while almost 80 percent believed that municipal authorities "would welcome immigrants".

According to the survey, 65 percent of Germans believed that immigration had a positive effect on the economy.

The view that Germany had "reached its limits when it comes to accepting refugees" was no longer held by a majority as 49 percent of respondents thought Germany had reached the limit, compared to 54 percent who said this in 2017, the study showed.

Meanwhile, 37 percent of those surveyed still agreed with the statement that Germany "can and should accept more refugees because it is necessary for humanitarian reasons".

On the other hand, skeptical assessments were widespread among the German interviewees, with 52 percent stating that there was too much immigration in Germany.

At the same time, critical voices were being raised about immigration, with 71 percent of Germans stating that immigration was a "burden" on social systems, according to the study.

Around two-thirds of Germans interviewed considered that migration "leads to conflicts between immigrants and Germans" while 63 percent feared that too many migrants "will not adopt German values".

Germany was now a "pragmatic immigration country", commented Joerg Draeger, member of the Executive Board at the Bertelsmann Foundation. "The population is clearly aware of the challenges posed by migration, but also sees opportunities for an ageing society."

The so-called welcome culture in Germany varied greatly depending on demographic and regional factors, the study authors noted.

"The higher the educational qualifications of the interviewees, the more open they are to migration," said the study.

Young people in particular had a more positive view of immigration as they "expect significantly fewer burdens from migration" on the German welfare state or housing situation, the authors noted.

Regional differences also played a role, with east Germans being more skeptical about immigration than their western counterparts, the study found.

The number of east German respondents who believed migration burdened the welfare state was 83 percent compared to 68 percent of west Germans interviewed for the Bertelsmann study.

According to Draeger, "direct contact between locals and immigrants can reduce reservations" about immigration in Germany.

The German government's migration, refugee and integration commissioner, Annette Widmann-Mauz (CDU), saw German integration policy as supported by the study.

"The direction is right and encouraging," Widmann-Mauz told the German editorial network (RND). "Immigration is increasingly seen as an opportunity especially for young people. This comes as no surprise, as diversity has long been the norm at school or at the training place".