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Discussion Paper

Discussion Paper No. 7: Knowing the Unknown

Irregular Migration in Germany

Discussion Paper No. 7: Knowing the Unknown

This report aims at contributing to the advancement of research on irregular migration in Germany by describing how irregular migration is defined by German law, which data is available to study this phenomenon as well as its limitations, what researchers have explored so far, and how to move forward. Therefore, the document is organised as follows: First, the pathways in and out of irregular status in Germany are introduced. This is of key importance to understand the data available and the gaps that have been identified. Second, the main data sources containing information on irregular migrants are described. Then, an overview of the literature on the characteristics of this population – both in terms of labour market participation and their living conditions – is presented. The final section of the document is devoted to explore future prospects for the study of irregular migration from a quantitative perspective. Finally, conclusions are presented. 

The research presented in this document received funding from the project "The Challenges of Migration, Integration and Exclusion. Wissenschaftsinitiative Migration der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (WiMi Project)", financed by the Max Planck Society. The project is a three-year research initiative (2017- 2020) led by Prof. Dr Marie-Claire Foblets (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale) and Prof. Dr Ayelet Shachar (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen), and involves scholars from six Max Planck Institutes: Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg), Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Rostock), Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy (Munich), Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin), Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle) and Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen).


Vono de Vilhena, D. (2018): Knowing the Unknown: Irregular Migration in Germany. Discussion Paper No. 7, Berlin: Max Planck Society/Population Europe.