Samstag, 28. März 2009

German migration: Where to, and why?

I recently had a heated discussion with an American, who maintained that Germany is suffering a massive braindrain: According to him, well-educated Germans are deserting the country in great numbers, and are mostly headed for the US and Britain.

I suppose he has a point with respect to a few specific professions: German academics are frequently lured to American universities, German doctors don't mind working in Britain and Norway, and the City has pulled in investment bankers and related professions.

Though in all three cases, it seems that things have changed dramatically in recent times: American universities are no longer hiring as their endowment funds have evaporated, British doctors are earning a lot less in Euro-terms based on latest exchange rates, and the City clearly isn't in a hiring mode anymore.

In any case, the discussion prompted me to look up migration statistics to see where people are migrating to.

The statistics don't tell us who exactly is coming and going (it doesn't distinguish between doctors and hairdressers), but it does give us a country breakdown. Latest numbers are for 2007, and major highlights are as follows:

- Old people are leaving, young people are coming: In the 50+ age bracket, Germany had a net loss of 16,000 people. Below 50, the net gain was 60,000.

- The gain is larger with respect to women (+32,000) than for men (+12,000).

- Germany attracts lots of Eastern Europeans (in particular: Poland +33,000, Romania +19,000, Bulgaria +12,000, Russia +8,000).

- There are moderate deficits with the UK (-4,500) and Austria (-4,400), and a major deficit with Switzerland (-17,000).

- Germany had deficits with all "old-EU" countries, except for small gains with France, Luxemburg, Finland and the Netherlands.

- Surprisingly, there was a deficit with Turkey (-3,000), and a sizable deficit with Greece (-6,700).

- Further afield, there were modest losses with the US (-3,700), Canada (-2,500) and Australia (-1,300), but gains from Brazil (+2,200), China (+2,000), India (+1,800) and Thailand (+1,200).

- Small but high-profile "expat destinations" did not play a major role: Singapore gained 300, Ireland 700, and the UAE 500.

All in all, it is true that in 2007, Germany had gains with respect to "less developed countries" and losses with respect to most "highly developed countries" (as well as with Turkey and Greece). However, the net losses with respect to all Anglo-Saxon countries combined were quite moderate in absolute terms (a net loss of 13,000 to US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland).

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