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Refugees in Austria: well-educated and religiously moderate

New study assesses human capital of asylum seekers

Who are the refugees who arrived in Europe in the summer and fall of 2015? What are their motivations, their intentions, their skills, their attitudes? A new study in PLOS ONE by researchers from the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital now sheds light on these important questions. Lead researcher Isabella Buber-Ennser and colleagues conducted a survey (Displaced Persons in Austria Survey DiPAS) and gathered information on 972 individuals from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan who arrived in Austria in 2015. Results indicate that the surveyed population is mainly comprised of young families with children. The educational level of the interviewees is high when compared with the average levels in their countries of origin. The vast majority of the respondents are Muslims, who rate their religiosity at a medium level. Even the more religious men tend to support modern views on gender and family issues. Most respondents stated that they have work experience and intend to participate in the host society’s labour market. The authors conclude that long-term integration policies seem pertinent, as three-quarters of the interviewees intend to stay in the host country. This particularly concerns opportunities for earning a living in the host country.

Quote from the study: “Rather than merely ‘counting heads’, we aimed to uncover what these people can offer in terms of human capital for the labour market of the host country and society at large.”

See below for various figures with results from the study.

Source: Buber-Ennser, I. ; Kohlenberger, J.; Rengs, B.; Al Zalak, Z.; Goujon, A.; Striessnig, E.; Potančoková, M.; Gisser, R.; Testa, M. R.; Lutz, W.: “Human Capital, Values, and Attitudes of Persons Seeking Refuge in Austria in 2015”, in PLOS ONE, 23 September 2016