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2016 Conference Presentation

EquityWorkforce Germany

Carers with migrant background and the professional care infrastructure in Germany: patterns of integration and the interaction of policy fields

Hildegard Theobald, University of Vechta, Germany


Objectives and background: Since the 1980s, in many western countries long-term care policies were considerably reformed either by the establishment of new, universally-oriented policies, such as e.g. in continental European countries and/or by an often market-oriented restructuring of the professional care infrastructure. The policy reforms significantly impacted on the situation of the care workforce – characterized by an expansion of care employment, efforts to qualify care workers but also often by a worsening of the employment- and work situation. In many western countries, the rising demand for professional care workers and the difficult employment- and working conditions in the field resulted in an increasing employment of carers with migrant background. More recent research revealed that the patterns of integration of professional carers with migrant background in the care infrastructure show a clearly country-specific image. In the focus of the paper is the analysis of the situation of professional care workers with migrant background in Germany. It proceeds by the assumption that the patterns of integration of care workers with migrant background in the professional care infrastructure are strongly influenced by an interaction of long-term care policies, employment regulations and professionalization approaches and migration policies. Thus, the paper aims to reveal the patterns of integration of professional carers with migrant background in Germany and explain them by an analysis of the interaction of the policy fields.

Conceptual background, data and methods: Theoretically, the paper is based on an own conceptual framework combining neo-institutionalist approaches created within international comparative research on welfare-respectively care policies for an analysis of the relevant social policies and the definition of the interrelationship between policy approaches and the situation of professional care workers. Empirically, it is based, first, on an examination of the policy design in long-term care policies, employment- and professionalization policies as well as migration policies in Germany. Second, for the analysis of the employment- and work situation of care workers with migrant background – the main empirical part – it draws on findings of a representative research project in Germany based on a questionnaire with approx. 650 professional care workers in home-based – and residential care provision conducted under the direction of the author. The data are analyzed based on statistical procedures.

Results and policy implications: The results show differences but also commonalities in the patterns of integration of professional carers with respectively without migrant background, such as e.g. working-time arrangements, caring tasks, training levels etc.. However, the basic patterns are strongly mediated by the training levels of the professional carers. The findings can be explained by an interaction of the effects of the policy approaches, such as e.g. the country-specific expansion of professional care work defined by long-term care policies, the professionalization approaches; i.e. occupational training programs and regulations of care work and the citizenship status of the care workers.

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