ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance

Lessons Learned from Studies on Refugees 1

Session Organisers Dr Christoph Homuth (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
Dr Gisela Will (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
Dr Roman Auriga (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi))
TimeWednesday 17th July, 14:00 - 15:00
Room D24

Due to the increasing refugees’ movements over the world and the increasing influx of refugees into Western countries (especially Europe), many studies on refugees have been conducted or started.

These studies range from narrow topics on specific groups and/or their situations at specific times or places, their motivations or reasons to flee their countries, to large-scale surveys that are either newly started or that try to integrate refugee populations into their existing samples.

Studies on refugees face special problems due to the specific (legal, economic, social, medical etc.) conditions refugees are living in, e.g. conducting interviews in crowded places like group accommodations, ethical challenges of the researcher as a non-intervening observer, misunderstandings of the aims of the researchers to the interviewed refugee. But for all that it is crucial to interview refugees adequately, if one aims to gain meaningful results.
Therefore, in this session, we want to discuss possible solutions or research strategies that were applied to deal with these special conditions and challenges of studies on refugees. We are especially interested in experiences made by applying these strategies, so that researchers can learn from each others' trails and errors during their work with/on refugees. This session concentrates on solutions that can be implemented in or transferred to quantitative-empirical studies.

We invite contributions from researchers who report how they dealt with specific problems and how these survey technics worked in practice. Possible thematic foci can be:

- Translation and multi-language-instruments
- Handling of left- vs. right-aligned languages (e.g. in the presentation to the interviewee)
- Questioning illiterate persons (e.g. audio-supported interviewing)
- Interviewer effects (e.g.: cultural challenges due to the gender of interviewer and interviewee; native speaking vs. non-native speaking interviewers)
- Conducting interviews in group accommodations
- High mobility (e.g. use of special communication channels like social media)
- Social desirability
- Construct validity (e.g. cultural differences, systematic response bias, established scales vs. simple language items)
- Consideration of traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Furthermore, we appreciate contributions, which analyze, how different survey techniques may influence research results.

Keywords: refugees, translation, illiteracy, construct validity, social desirability

Linguistic Aspects of Interviewing New Immigrants - Translation and Interviewing of Illiterates

Dr Gisela Will (LIfBi) - Presenting Author
Mrs Raffaela Gentile (LIfBi)
Mr Florian Heinritz (LIfBi)
Dr Christoph Homuth (LIfBi)

Not least in the wake of the strong immigration of asylum seekers to Europe in recent years, surveys of new immigrants are carried out in a number of European countries. The newcomers, however, usually don´t have enough competencies of the language of the receiving country to take part in a survey. The translation of the questionnaire is therefore essential. Looking at the group of refugees it can also be assumed that a considerable part of this migrant group have poor or no reading skills in their native language. In order not to exclude this population systematically, it is necessary to apply further strategies: 1. One possibility is the interviewing by native-speaking interviewers. 2. As there are not always enough interviewers available in all languages of origin and face-to-face interviews are also very expensive, conducting Computer Assisted Self Interviews (CASI) via computer tablet with additional provisions of audio files that allow respondents to listen to questions and response options, seems a feasible alternative.
In the presentation pros and cons of the two strategies are discussed from a theoretical perspective. Subsequently, using the data of the first wave of the study ReGES – Refugees in the German Educational System, in which both strategies were offered, the effectiveness and practicability of the two strategies are considered in more detail. The analysis is based on 5,711 CASI interviews conducted with adults and adolescents. First results show that almost 40% of the respondents did not complete the questionnaire without the support of the interviewers. The need for support was very high, especially for (functional) illiterates. In addition, illiterates very often used the option to switch the mode, from CASI to face-to-face interview. The possibility to answer the questionnaire with the help of audio files seems to be helpful especially for people with little reading skills, but not for illiterates.

The Impact of Education and its Measurement on Migrants’ Integration

Ms Verena Ortmanns (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences) - Presenting Author

Migration from other European countries and also from non-European countries to Germany has increased greatly during the last decades and especially in the last years. This raises the interest in surveying newly arrived migrants and refugees in Germany as done for instance in the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). The SOEP asks several questions on different aspects of migrants’ integration for example on their German language proficiency, their contact with natives and their integration in the labour market. From previous research, we already know that these aspects are related to each other and that migrants’ education is another important factor that affects all these aspects.
The research question of this study is: How does migrants’ homeland education impact their German language proficiency and its improvement over time as well as their occupational and socio-economic status? I will answer that question by calculating different hybrid regression models. One model focuses on migrants’ language proficiency and the other on their occupational and socio-economic status, using the ISEI index. Through estimating hybrid regression models I can take into account variables that are constant over time (such as gender and migrants’ homeland education) and variables that can change over time (such as age, length of staying in Germany, and their education, in case they completed a general or vocational educational programme in Germany). These regression models will be calculated separately using different education measures. Doing so, we can also identify the effect of different measurement instruments for education, for instance, years of schooling, showcards that provide generic and broad descriptions of educational programmes and the CAMCES-tool that offers detailed country-specific lists of educational qualifications. Thus, this study combines methodological and substantive research.

Mentoring of Refugees – Lessons Learned From a Randomised Controlled Trial with Refugees and Locals in Germany

Professor Martin Kroh (University of Bielefield)
Miss Magdalena Krieger (German Socio-Economic Panel)
Miss Lea-Maria Löbel (German Socio-Economic Panel) - Presenting Author
Dr Nicolas Legewie (German Socio-Economic Panel)

Over 1.2 million refugees arrived in Germany between 2015 and 2016. This influx at times exceeded the capacities of existing public support formats (e.g., in registration, housing, and health care). Non-governmental initiatives often compensated for this shortage of public support for refugee integration at the local level. In fact, ten percent of the adult population in Germany actively volunteered in such initiatives.
In the study “Mentoring of Refugees” we focus on the effect of such non-governmental support on refugee integration using a randomized control trial (RCT). For that purpose, we cooperate with the social start-up “Start with a Friend e.V.”, whose volunteers take part in one-on-one refugee mentoring relationships in 14 German cities. Participants of the longitudinal IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees (Institute for Employment Research, Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, and the Socio-Economic Panel) who expressed interest in mentoring programs were randomly selected as participants in the mentoring program of “Start with a Friend e.V.”. Those selected into the treatment group were matched with a local volunteer and met over a period of half a year. After the treatment, we measure the effect of mentoring on several integration outcomes, such as labor market access, language acquisition, and network formation.
In our presentation, we will discuss the potentials and challenges of conducting randomized controlled field experiments with refugee populations. We introduce the implementation and design of the study and discuss initial findings: Who are the refugee and local participants of the mentoring program in our study and how do they compare to the non-participants with regards to their social network and other socio-demographic characteristics? Do interviewer effects impact refugees’ self-selection into the program? And finally, do these methodological considerations impact the RCT’s results?