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Did you know that the initial integration of Ukrainian refugees has only a marginal effect on their intention to stay in Germany?

February 2024

The Russian full-scale war of aggression war against Ukraine has triggered an unprecedented influx of Ukrainian refugees seeking protection outside their country since February 2022. It represents the largest migration movement of Ukrainian citizens since World War II. Over a million Ukrainian refugees have been officially registered in Germany, since 2022.

In their current study, ISS researchers Leona Przechomski, Kateryna Sytkina, and Eldad Davidov, in cooperation with Andreas Ette from the Federal Institute for Population Research, investigate the relationship between societal integration and the intentions of Ukrainian refugees to stay in Germany. They conducted several auto-regressive cross-Lagged analyses using data from the IAB-BiB/FReDA-BAMF-SOEP panel survey of Ukrainian refugees. This panel dataset includes information from 11,225 Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Germany after February 2022 and have been surveyed semi-annually since the summer of 2022.

Their results suggest that within the first year and a half after the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Germany, integration factors such as German language proficiency, contact with Germans, the feeling of being welcome in Germany, and being employed in Germany can only marginally explain differences in the intentions of Ukrainian refugees to stay in Germany. This constrained explanatory power is reciprocally observable. The intention to stay in Germany also exerts only modest effects on the multiple dimensions of integration.

One possible explanation for these weak associations between integration and settlement intentions could be the circumstances of the Ukrainians' flight. In contrast to other refugees, Ukrainians did not flee due to political persecution or discrimination by their own government or groups within Ukraine but because of the war against Ukraine. Under these circumstances, their intentions to stay may be more influenced by developments in Ukraine than by their integration in Germany.