ZEW Economist Guido Neidhöfer: Integration More Likely to Succeed with Daycare Centres


Allocation of Ukrainian Families Should Take into Account Available Childcare Offers

ZEW economist Guido Neidhöfer on forced migration from Ukraine.

Europe is showing unity and solidarity with the refugees of the Ukraine war. In Germany, they are being received quickly and unbureaucratically. However, there are still many unresolved issues. For example, it is not clear how long they will need protection. In the event that they cannot return to their destroyed homeland in the foreseeable future, strategies for successful integration are necessary. Studies by ZEW Mannheim show that the integration of young children can be particularly helpful for the successful integration of the entire family. Guido Neidhöfer, a researcher in ZEW’s “Labour Markets and Human Resources” Department, explains:

“It is now important to provide education and care services for refugee children as quickly as possible. Daycare centres and other facilities help to speed up integration. Policymakers should take this aspect into account when distributing Ukrainian families across Germany, and accommodate them in places where it is possible to get a daycare place quickly. In a second step, it is essential to equip schools and childcare facilities appropriately and to involve the mothers at an early stage in the process. Our research at ZEW Mannheim shows: Mothers with young children who fled to Germany between 2013 and 2016 due to the war in Syria and were assigned to municipalities where it is more likely to get a daycare place soon after their arrival have significantly better language skills and rate their future labour market integration much more positively than refugee mothers in places where there is hardly any capacity for their children to be enrolled in education and daycare services. The effect is particularly strong for single mothers and mothers who have fled alone, although mothers in families where the father lives in the same household also benefit. However, the so-called ‘Königstein Key’, as well as other locally used quota systems, generally do not yet take these factors and circumstances sufficiently into account when distributing refugees.”