Immigrant Integration and Transnational Activities. The Situation of Immigrants in Germany
Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences University of Bremen Bremen, Germany
The paper analyzes transnational activities among immigrants in Germany, one of Europe´s major receiving countries. On the basis of the German Socio-Economic Panel (1994-2006), the paper seeks to answer the following two general questions: First, to what extent do immigrants residing in Germany engage in transnational activities? And second, how are these activities related to the immigrants´ integration into the receiving country?
Not only is empirical evidence on this issue still limited - especially for Europe -, but there are also theoretical blind spots regarding the determinants of the phenomenon. On the one hand, the literature assumes that those immigrants, who are not well integrated into the receiving society, are more likely to show a strong orientation towards their sending country and engage in transnational activities. On the other hand, studies from the US show that highly skilled and economically well integrated migrants command more resources, which enhance mobility and ease border crossing activities.
The empirical analysis focuses on one main example of transnational, border-crossing activities that is visits to the country of origin. Descriptive analyses reveal that a significant proportion of the immigrant population in Germany is transnationally active. With respect to the relation of integration and transnational activities, the application of longitudinal data analysis (logistic regression models with random effects and population-averaged panel data models), shows that those immigrants who are economically well integrated and at the same time not well integrated on other dimensions (e.g. cultural or emotional) are the most likely to visit their country of origin and spend considerable amounts of time there. However, this relation is not unidirectional, as further evidence suggests that transnational involvement also has important implications for subsequent integration into the receiving society. For instance, immigrants who frequently visit their country of origin have lower German language skills.
Therefore, systematically incorporating transnationalism into models of immigrant integration can advance our understanding of the complex processes and paths of immigrant integration.