Mittwoch, 25. März 2009

German migration flows

German demographers like to assume that Germany will receive significant inwards migration to counterbalance the shortfall in births. And Germans seem to hold the opinion that many foreigners would love to live in Germany.

Strangely, migration figures do not seem to bear this out:

In 2007, Germany had a migration surplus of a mere 44,000, or 0.05 % of population.

For 2008, numbers are out until August, and so far, they show a small deficit, i.e. slightly more emigration than immigration.

Considering the very good state of the economy and a booming job market during most of 2008, this is quite surprising.

I wonder if the current crisis will have an impact on migrant flows.

There will be less of an incentive to migrate if there are no jobs to be had anywhere. And many countries that sucked up lots of foreigners in recent years will be spewing them out again: UK, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Spain - all of them will see large numbers of foreigners going home (for UK/Ireland, this is already very visible; for some reason, Spanish immigrants so far seem to prefer to stay put, though).

But for Germany, the outlook is less obvious: What will go down more, immigration or emigration?

My take is: Fewer people will be leaving. And many Germans that went abroad in recent years will come back. Whereas much of German immigration is not primarily linked to the state of the economy (think: foreign spouses), so it won't go down by much.

So overall, my guess is that the migration balance will turn solidly positive again. But it will continue to fall far short of the numbers needed to compensate for the birth deficit.

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