Refugee Surveys in Germany: Challenges of a "Special Population”

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Susanne WORBS, Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Germany
Nina ROTHER, Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Research Centre, Germany
Since 2015, Germany has been confronted with an unprecedented number of asylum seekers since the early 1990s. Nearly 1.3 million people submitted their first application for asylum by July 2017. Syrian civil war refugees are by far the most important group of origin, followed by people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Eritrea. In response to this development, a broad and diverse "refugee research" has meanwhile been established in Germany to investigate this specific population.

The proposed contribution deals with the two largest quantitative studies on refugees in Germany so far and draws on the experience gained in this field. This involves a written survey of people entitled to asylum and recognised refugees (BAMF Refugee Study 2014) and a CAPI panel study on refugees who came to Germany between 2013 and January 2016, encompassing people with different legal statuses (IAB-BAMF-SOEP survey of refugees).

Two special characteristics of the group of refugees that are relevant for empirical surveys will be discussed in more detail:

1. Sampling:

Access via standard procedures is often not possible for migrant target groups due to small numbers of cases and high screening costs. For the two studies mentioned above, the German Foreigners' Central Register (Ausländerzentralregister) was used, which enables the drawing of representative samples among refugees and is exclusively accessible to the Research Centre of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

2. Design of the survey instruments and conducting the interviews:

The problems to be overcome here are the lack of knowledge of German, the lack of literacy (or non-latin script literacy) and the adaptation of questions to the cultural context of migrants. In particular, experiences with questionnaire translations and audio files will be presented. The question of how motivation and trust can be created and maintained for refugees as respondents is also reflected.