A growing number of studies have recently postulated a so-called local turn in the study of immigrant and refugee integration policy. A fundamental, yet untested, assumption of this body of research is that local (sub-national) policies and administrations shape how migrants and refugees integrate into society. We develop and apply an analytical model using multilevel modeling techniques based on large-N, longitudinal survey data (N > 9000) with refugees (2012–2018) in a highly decentralized country (Germany) to estimate the scope for local policy effects net of individual-level and state- and district-level characteristics. We show that region and district-level variation in integration outcomes across multiple dimensions (employment, education, language, housing, social) is limited (∼5%) within 4–8 years after immigration. We find modest variation in policy indicators (∼10%), which do not appear to directly translate into outcomes. We discuss implications for the study of local policies and the potential for greater convergence between administrative and political science, interested in governance structures and policy variation, and sociology and economics, interested primarily in integration outcomes. © The Author(s) 2023.

DOI: 10.1177/01979183231205561
ISSN: 01979183