Outflow of German Emigrants to EU Neighbors and US - A New Trend     Print Email
Thursday, 03 April 2008

Germans are emigrating at a record pace despite their country’s strengthening economy. In 2006, roughly 155,000 Germans left the country, apparently drawn by economic hopes.

It marks a new peak of emigration since the postwar wave in the 1950’s. (The net balance of influx and outflow turned “negative” again in 2005 when departures outnumbered returns and immigrants.)

Germany, like other countries in the European Union, is experiencing the effect of EU encouragement for mobility among member states. Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands, are also seeing record-breaking emigration figures. (Some of their emigrants go to Germany.)

For German officials, the trend increases concerns about a looming shortage of highly-skilled workers: the government is working on measures to attract qualified immigrants to fill this gap. The new pattern also aggravates the problem of an ageing German population and shrinking work force that is liable to poses problems for retirement financing.

When Juergen Schupp, of the German Institute of Economic Research, surveyed 2,000 Germans in the 16-year-old category, he found that about two percent of them were considering leaving the country, many of them within a year. Some of them cited the tax burden, together with obstacles to small-scale entrepreneurship, as reasons for considering emigration from Germany. Of course, this does not mean all of them will actually leave. Simultaneously, German academics are showing more mobility, but many of them leave only temporarily.

In the meantime, even Germans who stay can leave vicariously — by watching reality shows (such as “My New Life” or “My New Job”) about their countrymen emigrating.

A survey by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office listed the top destinations for German emigrants in 2005:

Switzerland: 14,000
United States: 13,000
Austria: 10,000
Poland: 9,000

Via NPR, March 28, 2008; Deutsche Welle July 2006; German Institute for Economic Research.