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Push-Pull Factors and Immigrant Political Integration in Germany


  • * Direct correspondence to Professor Peter Doerschler, Department of Politics, Loras College, Dubuque, IA 52001. Special thanks to Lee Ann Banaszak, Doug Blum, Joe Cammarano, Jim Carlson, Mark Hyde, Mark Salter, Gregory White, and Gonul Tol for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. All data and coding are available from the author on request. All errors or omissions are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.


Objectives. Drawing specifically on the German case, I argue that individuals' motivations for immigration, or so-called push-pull factors, have a lasting impact beyond the decision to immigrate and, in fact, profoundly influence immigrants' political integration in the host country. Specifically, economic push-pull factors are likely to impede immigrants' political integration, whereas political push-pull factors lead immigrants to remain more interested and engaged in politics while abroad.

Methods. I test these hypotheses using a combination of qualitative interviews conducted in 2002 with first-generation Turkish immigrants living in Berlin, and quantitative survey data from the 1998 German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP).

Results. Results from both analyses lend considerable support to these assertions.

Conclusions. The positive findings suggest that factors unique to the immigrant experience contribute to a fundamentally different understanding of immigrants' political integration from that of natives.