The Second Generation in Germany: Between School and Labor Market

Susanne Worbs focuses on the present day structural integration of adolescent second-generation migrants to Germany in the Federal Republic. Worbs, in my opinion, objectively and correctly assesses the current situation of second-generation migrants, particularly Turks, living in Germany. Her findings stem from two surveys; an EU funded assessment called the ‘Effectiveness of National Integration Strategies towards Second Generation Migrant Youth in a Comparative European Perspective’ (EFFNATIS) which was carried out in Nuremburg, and a supplementary analysis of micro census data (Labor Force Survey).

Worbs’ work begins first with an analysis of the history of migration to the Federal Republic in the postwar period. After acknowledging migration relations between the two nations as stemming from the early 1900s, Worbs asserts that the real reason underlying the high number of people living in Germany with Turkish heritage can be attributed to an economic impetus; namely the lack of workers in the FRG in the 1960s. The present day total of roughly 2.47 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany is a direct result of labor recruitment and the relatively higher level of opportunity for wealth offered in the FRG. However, as Worbs goes on to state, although many people of Turkish descent came to Germany in search of work and prosperity, those who have remained in Germany, and their descendants, have not been able to attain a similar level of prosperity over the 50 year history of significant Turkish immigration in comparison to people of German background.

Throughout the remainder of the article Worbs uses her evidence to basically argue one point: second-generation Germans of Turkish descent are not disadvantaged due to, what the author terms, ‘integration deficits’, but rather that the lower economic status of these people can be attributed to 1) the German education system which “does not systematically promote children from socially disadvantaged families (migrants and autochthonous alike)” 2) disadvantageous familiar conditions, i.e. parents with low educational levels themselves and poor German language abilities 3) a labor system that places much importance on having the necessary educational requirements in order to gain entrance 4) discrimination.

In my opinion these four attributes are the primary hindrance to anyone of foreign heritage in gaining full access and equality in an industrialized western society. Worbs cleverly and objectively comes to this conclusion, and I believe that her conclusion is relevant on a more universal level than just in relation to Germany.

by Michael Silva

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