Zusammenhalt in Vielfalt: Das Vielfaltsbarometer der Robert Bosch Stiftung
Germany is a diverse country, a fact that offers opportunities for future development in a globalized world, but also poses challenges for the social coexistence of people. The majority of Germans tend to regard increasing diversity as an asset rather than a danger, and the acceptance of social diversity in Germany is well developed. At the same time, acceptance of diversity varies widely depending on the region and the dimension of diversity. While acceptance of people with disabilities or another sexual orientation than one’s own is high, religious diversity is far less accepted.
These are the findings of a representative study, “Cohesion in Diversity: Diversity Barometer 2019 of Robert Bosch Stiftung,” for which 3,025 German residents aged 16 and older were interviewed by telephone about their opinions and attitudes toward various social groups.
Where and with regard to whom are people especially accepting of diversity?
According to the overall diversity index, which is based on a scale from 0 to 100, the mean value for the acceptance of diversity in Germany currently stands at 68 points, clearly in the positive range. At the same time, there is a noticeable west-east and north-south divide: The top five ranks are occupied by Hamburg (72 points), Schleswig-Holstein (71 points), Bremen (71 points), Berlin (71 points), and Lower Saxony (70 points), in other words, the three city-states and two large states in northern Germany. Next come the other states in what used to be West Germany. Bringing up the rear are the former East German states (excluding Berlin), with scores between 65 and 61 points.
In addition to regional differences, there are sometimes significant differences in the acceptance of individual dimensions of diversity. In Germany, acceptance of people with disabilities (83 points) and non-heterosexual orientation (77 points), for instance, but also of people with a different ethnic background (73 points) is high. A majority are still open to people of a different age (70 points), a different sex (69 points), and low socio-economic standing (58 points). Skepticism seems to be predominant solely with regard to religion and religious diversity (44 points). However, the findings suggest that, despite the current media focus, this result is not a rejection of “Muslims” alone; the low approval rating tends to indicate a general reservation against religious lifestyles and traditions.
When it comes to factors that can positively impact approval of a pluralistic society, individual and personal aspects are particularly important; these include empathy, (a rather left) political leanings orientation, and a positive attitude toward globalization. Structural factors (economic strength, unemployment rate, etc.) in people’s home region are of secondary importance, although regions with higher income disparities also show greater acceptance of diversity. This finding suggests that the existence of a certain level of diversity is a basic prerequisite for having to learn and practice a constructive way of dealing with diversity in the first place.