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Integration, Social Networks and Economic Success of Immigrants: A Case Study of the Turkish Community in Berlin

Alexander Danzer () and Hulya Ulku

Munich Reprints in Economics from University of Munich, Department of Economics

Abstract: The observation that some immigrants choose not to integrate into the host society has caused political controversies across European states. This paper hypothesizes that immigrants can exploit social networks of different scales in order to substitute for costly integration. Using a novel dataset of Turkish households in Berlin, which was specifically collected for this analysis, we investigate the determinants of integration as well as the impact of integration and networks on households’ economic success. We find evidence that integration promotes income even after accounting for potential endogeneity bias. Using endogenous switching regression model, we test whether local ethnic networks can be successfully used to generate household income. In line with the view that there is a trade-off between integration and the establishment of ethnic contacts, we find that local ethnic and familial networks increase the income of unintegrated migrants, while transnational networks decrease it. Moreover, education is more income improving for integrated than non-integrated immigrants and remaining closely integrated within their own ethnic group is more economically advantageous for poorer households. These results provide evidence that integration is the rational strategy for better-off immigrants while it may be too costly for poorer immigrants.

Date: 2011
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Published in Kyklos 3 64(2011): pp. 342-365

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