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Survey: One in three people experience discrimination in Germany

April 20th 2016

Roughly one in three people in Germany has experienced discrimination in the past two years. This is a key finding of the comprehensive survey "Discrimination in Germany", carried out by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA).

14.8% of respondents have experienced some form of age discrimination, while 9.2% have experienced gender discrimination. Discrimination in the work place is very common: nearly half of the respondents (48.9%) have experienced discrimination at work.

"Discrimination is anything but a niche topic" , said the head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, Christine Lüders, at the presentation of the results. "Everyone can be affected. It is therefore in all our interests to tackle all forms of discrimination with full commitment. "

The survey is based on two pillars: The Bielefeld Research Institute SOKO Institute for Social Research and Communication carried out a nationwide survey by phone with some 1,000 people aged 14 and over. These results give an overview of how widespread discrimination is in Germany.

A comprehensive written survey was also launched, open to everyone over the age of 14 years living in Germany. The survey enabled them to outline any cases of discrimination that they themselves had experienced or witnessed. More than 18,000 people participated and described almost 17,000 discrimination situations. The survey was conducted together with the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM) of the Humboldt University in Berlin. The survey is the largest ever carried out in Germany on this issue.

"The return exceeded our expectations" , Lüders said. "A clear sign for us: people want to talk about discrimination, and they don’t want discimination played down." Furthermore, those who experience discrimination generally don’t take it lying down. Around six out of every ten victims (59.6%) have responded by trying to raise awareness about discrimination or have used counseling.

"People are simply not willing to endure discrimination" , Lüders said. But they need more and better support: "Almost ten years after the entry into force of the General Equal Treatment Act, it is high time to legally strengthen people who experience discrimination. "

Lüders suggested that discrimination associations as well as equality bodies should be able to take action on this: "We should be able to provide effective support for victims in court - as has been the case in many other European countries for a long time now."

Key findings

Experiences of discrimination are widespread

When asked about discrimination based on any of the grounds mentioned in the General Equal Treatment Act (age, disability, ethnic origin, gender, religion / belief, sexual identity), 31.4% of repondents claimed to have experienced some form of discrimination in the past two years.

If the grounds that are not protected by law are included, such as social origin, marital status or appearance, there is an increase in discrimination cases (35.6%).

Discrimination on grounds of age are seen most often: Approximately one in seven people (14.8%) have experienced age discrimination. As regards the other grounds: based on gender or gender identity, almost every tenth person was discriminated against (9.2%), 8.8% based on religion or belief, 8.4% on ethnic origin, 7.9% for disability and 2.4% for sexual orientation. The survey, in which participants were able to describe in detail individual experiences of discrimination, shows that discrimination often takes place simultaneously on more than one ground, such as gender and age.

Particularly high risk of discrimination in working life

Discrimination occurs in all areas of life, but it is especially common in access to employment and the workplace: almost half of the respondents reported (48.9%) having experienced some form of discrimination there in the past two years.

Discrimination based on age and gender in working life is relatively frequent. However, people are generally discriminated against for their sexual orientation or for their race in public and in the leisure sector: on the street, in public transport or in sports clubs. People with disabilities or impairments were more likely than other to experience discrimination in the health care sector.

People do not accept being discriminated against

Approximately six out of ten victims (59.6%) say that they have done something about discrimination. Among other things, they have tried to make the public aware of the discrimination (27.4%) or have sought advice (13.6%). 17.1% made an official complaint, while 6.2% have filed a lawsuit.

Discrimination has consequences for the victims

Little is known about the effects of discrimination experiences. However as the survey shows. they clearly lead to emotional stress and distrust, but also to more awareness about discrimination in general.

The data collected has not yet been fully evaluated due to the enormous volume of data. A complete report will be submitted to the German Bundestag in 2017. This will be carried out by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, together with the Federal Government Commissioner. The report will also include recommendations for policy and practice. 


Download the full Report (in German)

Via FADA’s website (Translated from German)