The scientific study MORE is designed to deliver first results on the role of civic engagement in the short- and long-term integration of refugees in Germany. The intervention study is being carried out by the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) in partnership with the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). It is funded through the Leibniz Competition (funding line: innovative projects).
Since 2015, two major phenomena in Germany have been the subject of increasing public and academic interest: on the one hand, the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees to the country, and the commitment of large numbers of volunteers who wanted to help these newcomers upon their arrival.
As many refugees will be unable to return to their home countries in the foreseeable future, the question arises how to best integrate them into the German educational system and labor market and how to facilitate their participation in other aspects of social life.
For the purpose of this study, MORE has partnered with the social start-up Start with a Friend e.V., which has created more than 2500 mentor-like relationships (known in German as “Tandems”) between refugees and locals since 2014. Like many other civic initiatives for refugees, Start with a Friend aims at creating friendships between refugees and locals and providing emotional as well as practical support. Locals who are interested in participating in the program can register on the Start with a Friend website.
The MORE study uses a randomized controlled trial that will be conducted with participants of the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Refugee Sample 2017 and 2018. Participants who are interested in participating in the study are being randomly selected into either the group of 300 participants (the treatment goroup) or the group of 500 non-participants (the control group). All participants will be matched with a local by Start with a Friend for a mentoring relationship. Both the treatment and the control group will be interviewed annually as part of the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Refugee Sample. One of the main questions this study seeks to answer is whether active support from a mentor plays a causal role in expanding refugees' social network, improving language use, or aiding in the search for education or employment.
In addition to the survey of refugees, there will be a survey on how the mentoring relationship evolved. The participating mentors will be surveyed on their expectations and the relationship with the refugee developed over time from their perspective. This investigation will focus on the intensity of the mentoring relationship, shared activities, and the dynamics of the relationship over the course of the program. The data on refugees and locals can be combined for analysis. All data and analyses will be made available. If the refugee has given consent, it will be possible to link the IAB-BAMF-SOEP refugee sample with the Integrated Employment Biographies sample (IE) of the IAB.