A Description of How the Zeitschrift für Amtliche Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg Approaches “Foreigners“ – Magdalena Del Valle

Several times each year, often on a quarterly basis, the Zeitschrift für amtliche Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg (referred to as Zeitschrift throughout this paper) publishes a compilation of relevant statistics for Berlin and Brandenburg. Each publication discusses specific demographic and social topics. Their themes range from tourism, to gender equality, to age and education structures in Berlin – Brandenburg. The Zeitschrift selects the most relevant issues from a given year’s quarter and delves into them with in-depth statistics. In each publication’s introduction, the chief editor explains why these issues were the most relevant and how he decided to include them in the quarter’s Zeitschrift. 

When it comes to immigration and foreign residents, the publications take two different approaches: in the first, they analyze foreign residents as a sub-category of a grander issue. For example, the Zeitschrift may look at the effects of COVID-19 in Berlin and use ”foreigners“ as one of the social groups that may have been differently affected by the crisis. In the second approach, the publications use ”foreigners“ as a subject in and of themselves. For example, when it comes to the 2015 refugee crisis and how the number of foreign residents increased after this influx of migrants. This article seeks to describe the Zeitschrift’s approach between 2012 and 2021 towards foreign residents in Berlin – Brandenburg, especially as both a subcategory and a meta categories.

When it comes to foreign residents as sub-categories, the Zeitschrift includes them in analysis of COVID-19, motherhood,the city’s suburbanization, and voting habits. Three issues that were often repeated in the Zeitschrift are those of  population growth, startup development,  unemployment

The Zeitschrift includes, almost every year it was published between 2010 and 2021, a population projection to the year 2030. Often, this projection includes a sentence or two about how the population has been increasing thanks to the number of ”foreigners“ moving to Berlin and Brandenburg. Before 2015, the population projections were somewhat inaccurate, however, because the statisticians could not have accounted for the so-called refugee crisis from 2015 and after. “Aufgrund der zuletzt sehr starken „Auslandsmigration“ ist eine regelmäßige Überprüfung und Justierung der Annahmen für die Bevölkerungsprognose erforderlich,” explains the 2016 Zeitschrift for the first quarter in its introduction (p. 2). Nevertheless, these projections make it clear that migrants play an important role in any changes in the Berlin/Brandenburg populations. 

On two separate publications, the Zeitschrift describes the increased role of ”foreigners“ in developing startups in Berlin. The 2018 Zeitschrift for the 1st quarter states that ⅙ startups are founded by non-Germans, while the 2020 Zeitschrift for the 3rd and 4th quarters states that ⅕ of startup founders are ”foreigners“. Here, we see that the Zeitschrift is looking into the identities of entrepreneurs in general and finds that ”foreigners“ are a sub-group that is increasingly taking charge in this sector (for a research project about this topic, see “Parcours de vie des fondateurs des start-up de la finance. Une étude comparative de Paris et de Berlin“). We could read these statistics about ”foreigners“ leading startups as a win for the Berlin government’s efforts to create a favorable environment for entrepreneurship and innovation as well as taking a front seat in global economics.

Finally, concerning unemployment, the Zeitschrift tackles the issue as both a matter in and of itself (or as a meta-category) and a matter of foreign residents specifically (as a sub category). The 2016 Zeitschrift for the second quarter highlights that there were more unemployed ”foreigners“ than there were unemployed German citizens not only in Berlin but throughout the country. This is likely given the influx of refugees that started to come to Germany in 2015 but continued to arrive at a decreasing rate ever since. Unemployment, as such, cannot be conceived as a theme in a vacuum, rather it must be approached bilaterally. The Zeitschrift describes what kinds of jobs over/under represent ”foreigners“ (for example there were many individuals with immigration-background in sales, marketing and tourism but not a lot in public administration). This analysis again sees ”foreigners“ as a sub-category in both the issue of unemployment and each field. To use ”foreigners“ as a category in and of themselves, it would have been useful to see what kinds of ”foreigners“ held what jobs and what individuals were under-represented in each field. 

After all, if we were to isolate the first two prevalent themes concerning internationals from the Zeitschrift, population growth and the founding of startups—where the presence of ”foreigners“ is only becoming stronger—we could assume that if there are more migrants both increasing the population and the number of startups, perhaps we could assume that ”foreigners“ are thriving and less unemployed than Germans. This, evidently, is not the case because within the category of ”foreigners“ there is a diverse set of individuals. Certainly, some ”foreigners“ immigrate to Berlin to found their startup in a thriving entrepreneurial environment. Others, however, emigrate from countries in deteriorating conditions and arrive with no plans for employment etc. Even this is a generalization that calls for a more precise understanding of the role of ”foreigners“ in Berlin and Brandenburg. 

These examples demonstrate that approaching foreign residents as a sub category can be used as arguments for the success of political efforts such as startup promotion and integration into global economics. Furthermore, approaching foreign residents as a sub category can be used to highlight gaps that the government has yet to fill in areas like unemployment and the professional integration of migrants into the labor market.

Other times, however, “foreigners” must often be tackled as a subject in and of themselves. The Zeitschrift often accomplishes this: It not only classifies migrants and different categories of ”foreigners“ (such as people with immigration background or refugees), but it also zeroes-in on the effects of the influx of refugees and migrants in 2015 and the ways in which ”foreigners“ can be integrated into the German labor market.

The Zeitschrift takes much care to classify both foreign residents and German citizens with “Migrationshintergrund,” which is classified unter the three categories set forth in the 2018 Zeitschrift from the first quarter: “1. wenn die befragte Person nicht die deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit besitzt oder 2. [wenn] der Geburtsort der befragten Person außerhalb der heutigen Grenzen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland liegt und eine Zuwanderung in das heutige Gebiet der Bundesrepublik Deutschland nach 1949 erfolgte oder 3. [wenn] der Geburtsort mindestens eines Elternteiles der befragten Person außerhalb der heutigen Grenzen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland liegt sowie eine Zuwanderung dieses Elternteiles in das heutige Gebiet der Bundesrepublik Deutschland nach 1949 erfolgte.” The statistical analyses also keep track of what neighborhoods ”foreigners“ live in, where they migrated from, how they vote (once they have the right to do so in Germany), and whether they are part of a “bi-national couple.”  These differentiations stem from a long debate in Germany over who belongs to the category “mit Migrationshintergrund” and the reform of the Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht (Lea Renard 2018).While the Zeitschrifft often classifies foreigners by nationality, there is not much focus on whether they are or are not members of the European Union.  

Another instance where the Zeitschrift is also concerned with migrants is when determining their reason for coming to Berlin. At least one issue of the Zeitschrift for almost every year after 2015 mentions the high numbers of refugees that arrived from the war in Syria in that year and in the following years. The 2019 Zeitschrift for the second quarter also goes into detail about migrants who came to Berlin to be re-united with their families [Familienzusammenführung]. Providing details about different ”foreigners“’ motivations opens a window into the myriad reasons that individuals may have for coming to Berlin and highlights how diverse the category of “foreigner” truly is. Certainly, many migrants came to escape terror in their home countries, but others may have come to be re-united with loved ones, to find work or even to pursue some entrepreneurial fantasy. These diverse motives correspond with specific resident permits. The sub categories that correspond to ”foreigners“ in the statistical analyses mirror the legal categories for migrants that come into Germany. These, then, can be used as arguments in parliamentary debates and demands for legal action.

A final example of how the Zeitschrift engages with ”foreigners“ as their own category is when analyzing the ways in which they are integrating to the German labor market and community. The 2018 Zeitschrift for the 3rd and 4th quarters has an entire section titled “Was macht die ausländische Fachkraft zur deutschen Fachkraft?” and another determining whether ”foreigners“ have the same access to education as German natives (the answer is no). Meanwhile, the 2017 Zeitschrift for the second quarter delves into what ”foreigners“ have access to social benefits, and the 2015 Zeitschrift for the first quarter explains that young ”foreigners“, or those between the age of 16 and 18, face less social dangers than they did in 2005 but still more so than native youths. 

As evidenced by this analysis of how the Zeitschrift have used the category of ”foreigners“ in Berlin and Brandenburg, the category of “foreigner” reveals a very diverse group of individuals. From refugees to entrepreneurs, capturing everyone who comes from outside of Germany into a single category for analysis may not provide very accurate data. When using these kinds of numbers in public debates we must be able to differentiate between an international resident that fled his home because of a war and one that came temporarily merely to explore different career opportunities.This could allow the government to better serve those who have made Germany their new home. Without more sub-analysis of the “foreigner” category, it will be very difficult to distinguish the true needs and interests of those in need or those who are well positioned on the German labor market. Showing the different problems of integration and using the distinct categories for “foreigners” as sub-categories when it comes to unemployment, poverty, access to education and more could make foreigners’ integration much more efficient.



Citer ce billet
Layla Kiefel (2024, 16 avril). A Description of How the Zeitschrift für Amtliche Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg Approaches “Foreigners“ – Magdalena Del Valle. Mobilität, Migration und räumliche Neuordnung | Mobilités, Migrations, Recomposition des espaces. Consulté le 21 mai 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/w81x

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