August 1999

IZA DP No. 50: Ethnic German Migration since 1989 - Results and Perspectives/ Aussiedler seit 1989 - Bilanz und Perspektiven

published in: Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, 2000, 1(2000), 225-237;
see IZA Reprints 50/00

Among all European countries, Germany absorbs by far the largest number of immigrants. But to date, the German government has yet to adopt a system that will effectively control the influx of foreigners. The immigration of Ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe, which is due to historical events and therefore constitutionally guaranteed, is a special case. It is marked by selection criteria (language tests), de facto quotas, and mobility restrictions. Although the immigration of foreigners and Ethnic Germans produces overall positive effects, the recent trend has been more problematic, especially as the economic situation in Germany deteriorated. Ethnic Germans are basically facing the same difficulties with social and economic integration as foreigners. A majority of young Ethnic Germans have no cultural or language ties to Germany. Insufficient language skills and the lack of adequate education and training often limit their labor market prospects to simple tasks and physical labor. Over the last few years, unemployment among Ethnic Germans in the workforce has increased. This study concludes that Germany needs a well-directed immigration policy in order to make the immigration process transparent and predictable. This would also lead to a better acceptance of foreigners and Ethnic Germans in society. A German immigration law could be based on the existing structures that apply to the influx of Ethnic Germans.