Is active case management the key to the successful integration of refugees? Evidence from a field experiment in Germany

Last registered on February 24, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

Is active case management the key to the successful integration of refugees? Evidence from a field experiment in Germany
Initial registration date
February 21, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 24, 2019, 7:44 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Mannheim

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Mannheim

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
In 2015 and 2016, over 1.2 million refugees arrived in Germany, the large majority without knowing the German language or possessing any formal or vocational degrees. The task to integrate them in the German society is further complicated by the fact that being subject to an often lengthy asylum procedure and constant assistance by government social workers and volunteers tends to decrease the refugees' self-initiative and their belief to be able to shape their own future. This study examines whether introducing an active and activating case management can counter this development and foster the integration of refugees. To identify its impact, we implement a field experiment at the roll-out of a local "integration management" program in a medium-sized German city. About 620 household heads and their family members are randomly allocated to treatment and control group, with treatment meaning working with the integration managers for eight months, while those in the control group continue to be cared for by traditional social workers throughout this period and are taken into the integration management afterwards. The short-term impact is measured as the difference in relevant integration variables after the eight months treatment period. Additionally, we intent to disentangle potential channels of influence (more intensive assistance due to a lower refugees-per-integration-manager ratio vs. more structured and activating approach).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Müller, Bettina and Christoph Sajons. 2019. "Is active case management the key to the successful integration of refugees? Evidence from a field experiment in Germany." AEA RCT Registry. February 24.
Former Citation
Müller, Bettina and Christoph Sajons. 2019. "Is active case management the key to the successful integration of refugees? Evidence from a field experiment in Germany." AEA RCT Registry. February 24.
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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
a) Labor market integration: Employment of any kind (full time, part time, mini jobs, internships, apprenticeships, publicly sponsored jobs)
b) Language proficiency: Self-assessed German language proficiency
c) Housing: Living in a private apartment (in contrast to living in a refugee residence or an apartment organized by the city)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
• Actively searching for a job (if not in employment)
• Further education activities (school, university/college, apprenticeship, training programs)
• Recognition of academic or vocational degrees from abroad
• Application for recognition of academic or vocational degrees from abroad
• Participation in a German language or integration course
These outcomes are of minor importance and we will only take a look at them to make sense of the main results.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Background information:
The integration management program in our cooperating city is implemented in three consecutive waves. In the first wave (roughly May 2018 to January 2019), the most urgent cases were included, i.e., individuals who needed more intensive assistance for themselves or family members at that point in time. For the other two waves, no special allocation mechanism was foreseen on the part of the city. We therefore agreed with the officials to do the allocation randomly in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

Individual steps:
1. The officials from the integration management program assemble a list of potential participants. That is, they list all refugees in their jurisdiction who have not been part of the program yet and for whom there is no immediate reason or need to put them in a specific wave.
2. We provide a list of randomly generated numbers to the officials. The numbers are matched with the IDs of the potential participants, such that they can be randomly allocated to treatment and control group on the household level and stratified by place of living (16 refugee residences, publicly provided apartments, and private apartments).
3. Treatment group individuals participate in the integration management program between February and October 2019, while control group participants continue to be supervised by social workers or can get help at public counsel offices throughout the same period.
4. We accompany both integration managers and social workers for a couple of days to get first-hand knowledge about the different approaches used (summer 2019).
5. In October 2019, the supervising integration managers collect the final data about the outcomes and background of the treatment group participants.
6. After that, control group participants enter the integration management program (roughly November 2019 to June 2020), while treatment group participants can turn to social workers or public counsel offices for advice, if still needed.
7. At the beginning of wave 3 (November/December 2019), the supervising integration managers collect the information about the control group participants.
8. The officials from the integration management combine the data for treatment and control group, remove any personal and identifying information, and send the resulting data set to us (January 2020).
9. The researchers aim at getting funds for a post-participation survey to obtain information on potential channels of influence at play. To protect the personal information of the participants, the questionnaires will be sent out and collected through the city officials (roughly February/March 2020).

The identification of the treatment effect (i.e., the effect of being supervised by the integration management program) relies heavily on the experimental setup presented above, in particular, the random allocation of participants into the comparison groups. That is, we measure the effect on the three main outcome variables as the difference in the respective means of the two groups, assuming that they are almost identical in all other aspects (observed and unobserved). This is equivalent to running regressions of the respective outcome on a simple treatment indicator. Additionally, we will add potentially relevant control variables to check whether the estimates remain stable, i.e., whether the random allocation of participants to the two comparison groups worked well.
Furthermore, we will examine whether different subgroups react differently to the treatment by separately introducing interaction terms between the treatment variable and indicators for various potentially interesting subgroups, especially women, households with children, individuals with a low formal education, and people living in private apartments.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
The treatment is clustered by family and the random allocation process stratified by residence and type of apartment. There are two formal/practical reasons for this approach: (1) All members of a family have to be treated simultaneously, that is, they have to be in the same group. (2) Because integration managers are responsible for individual residences, the allocation has to be done fairly evenly on the residence level. Otherwise, individual integration managers could end up with very uneven amounts of work over the two phases. If this allocation mechanism leads to heavily lopsided distributions in certain residences (in particular, the smaller ones), e.g., if the household heads in one group have larger families than the ones in the other, we therefore adjust the distribution for this residence manually.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Around 620 families.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Around 1,000 adults.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
About 310 families treatment, 310 families control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethikkommission der Universität Mannheim - Ethics commission of the University of Mannheim
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
EK Mannheim 32/2018


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials