This paper uses data collected in May 2023 to better understand how Germans feel towards Syrian refugees. Generally, while feelings of different types of humanitarian concern (safety, material wellbeing, health, future opportunities) were similar, threat feelings (welfare, safety, culture) were slightly higher with the notable exception of less concern about labour market competition. We find that younger people, people with a university degree, or people with a migration background feel less threatened by the immigration of refugees with the most significant differences in attitudes towards refugees based on people’s social and political values. Respondents with stronger humanitarian orientations, higher trust levels and who do not place themselves on the right side of the political spectrum, show markedly higher levels of humanitarian concerns and lower threat perceptions. In addition to measuring attitudes, we also measured respondents’ solidarity towards refugees. Only 29 percent and 23 percent of respondents are willing to sign a petition in favour of financial aid to refugee camps or admissions to Germany, respectively. Respondents with higher levels of social trust are much more likely to express their support for more camp assistance than less trusting respondents. Regarding refugee admissions, a stark divide emerges along political lines, with individuals on the political left showing much greater openness to admitting refugees than those on the right. We find limited support for housing refugees in Germany, especially when asking for respondents’ willingness to accommodate refugees privately.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2023

Publication series

SeriesUNU-MERIT Working Papers

JEL classifications

  • a13 - Relation of Economics to Social Values
  • d63 - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
  • i31 - General Welfare
  • j15 - "Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination"
  • o15 - "Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration"


  • Refugees
  • immigration
  • solidarity
  • humanitarianism
  • threat perceptions


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