Collection of Anti-discrimination Data in Representative Repeat Surveys


Stock-take and room for development

- Fact sheet on the research project -

Questions asking about subjective discrimination experiences or other aspects of discrimination

Most surveys already include questions asking about subjective discrimination experiences or other aspects of discrimination. However, the picture remains incomplete:

  • In some instances, questions to that effect are only asked of certain subsets of persons (such as migrants) or they only look at discrimination on grounds of given characteristics (such as age) or in a given sphere of life.
  • By contrast, they include very few or no questions on specific forms of discrimination, such as (sexual) harassment in the workplace.  The same is true for questions about reactions to such experiences or awareness of the relevant law.

Categories covered by the General Equal Treatment Act - AGG

A mixed picture also emerges when we look at the categories covered by the General Equal Treatment Act - AGG, according to which the surveys can be analysed.  The following are some of the findings that invited criticism:

  • There was a notable absence of appropriate measuring tools to identify the groups of persons that are affected by racial discrimination; the distinction between persons with and without migrant background that most surveys have relied on so far, is inappropriate here.
  • Questions about sexual orientation only feature in few surveys and, in most cases, the sex-of-interviewee category does not allow for trans* and intersexual persons.  As a result, the problems unique to LGBTI* persons are likely to remain hidden.

Regarding the consideration of principles formulated by civil society organisations

Regarding the consideration of principles for the collection of anti-discrimination and equality data formulated by civil society organisations, the following can be stated:

  • Most repeat surveys studied guarantee the principles of voluntary and anonymous participation - except for the obligation to respond in the microcensus.
  • Some surveys do not fully ensure the principle of self-identification. Especially the sex registered is mostly the result of external attribution by the interviewers.
  • The calls for participation across all stages of the research process and the informed consent that goes with an increased need for information can only be realised to a limited extent when conducting population-wide cross-thematic surveys.
  • In some cases, it is possible to cover multiple identities, multiple discrimination and intersectionality.

 Overall, the authors conclude that discrimination reporting schemes that match the scope of protection laid down in the AGG is not currently possible on this basis.