Samstag, 13. Juni 2009

Foreigners in Germany

According to the Sueddeutsche, yet another government-sponsored study on foreigners in Germany has shown that they are much more likely than Germans to be poor, unemployed and fail to get degrees.

However, there's an interesting snippet hidden in between all the gloom:

- 16 % of first-generation foreigners (i.e. those born abroad) don't manage to get a school-leaving degree, as compared to 2.3 % of youngsters with no foreign background.

- But second-generation foreigners (those born in Germany, but with at least one foreign parent) actually did better(!) than German youngsters, and only 2.2 % of them didn't get a degree.

Sure, it doesn't tell you how they succeeded after leaving schol (and it doesn't even say what kind of school the graduated from), but it does seem to indicate that the bad performance of first-generation immigrants is to a very large extent caused by them not "knowing the rules" and not speaking the language.

That migrants can in principle get ahead in Germany is also shown by the increasing number of top politicians with a foreign background:

- The deputy governor (stellvertretender Ministerpräseident) of Niedersachsen, one of Germany's largest states, is a "pure-blood" Vietnamese. He's tipped for a Berlin cabinet job if/when the FDP manages to enter a coalition government again.

- The co-head of the Greens is of Turkish descent.

- And another Green shooting star, the current head of the Hesse Greens, is a half-Jemenite (a nationality usually associated with fundamentalist Islam). Apparently, his great-uncle was King of Jemen at some point. The press widely tips him for a Berlin cabinet post as well, should the Greens make it back into the government.

Germany may not have its Barack Obama yet (and maybe never will). But for a country with a rather limited number of second-generation immigrants with German passports, having three top-rank politicians with "exotic backgrounds" isn't that bad.


  1. A Vietnamese politician? Never heard of him before.

  2. He goes by the rather Germanic name of Philip Rösler. I believe he's a war orphan and got adopted by German foster parents.

  3. Here's his website:


  5. Did those 16% of first generation foreigners actually spent their childhood in Germany or does it include the foreigners that came as adults to Germany?

  6. @v.g.

    The articles don't specify, and I didn't manage to locate the study itself (probably not available online, at least nobody links to it).

    I assume it only refers to kids of an "appropriate age", i.e. those that came here before the usual school-leaving age (otherwise, wouldn't you need to take foreign school-leaving degrees into account?)