Immigrant Narratives in German Newspapers


Kai Gehring, Joop Adema, Panu Poutvaara

Narratives about immigrants matter for both natives and immigrants because narratives shape attitudes, political outcomes, and perceptions of discrimination. A recent and growing literature has shown that media narratives influence how people think and act as well as that specific framing of immigration matters for how migrants are perceived. However, no study has examined narratives about immigrants in a systematic way.

Key Messages

  • We measure immigrant narratives in German newspapers and assign each sentence to one of seven themes
  • Using natural language processing (NLP) tools and customized dictionaries, we analyze over 100,000 articles
  • 45 percent of narratives are on Foreign Religion, 23 percent on Cultural Integration, and only 12 percent on Economic themes
  • Changes in sentiment in immigrant narratives come mainly from shifts between themes
  • Southern and Eastern European immigrants receive much more positive coverage than Arabs and Turks

Kai Gehring, Joop Adema and Panu Poutvaara: “Immigrant Narratives in German Newspapers,” EconPol Forum 24 (4), CESifo, Munich, 2023.