Germany, like most other countries in western Europe, has a very low natural growth rate; a birth rate so low, in fact, that if it weren’t for in-migration Germany would shrink in size from 81 million to 71 million by mid-century.
But that probably won’t be the case because migration to Germany is alive and well. In fact, based on a report just released by the German government, the country received more in 2012 than it had in the previous two decades. More specifically, almost a million foreigners came to live in Germany, the highest number of migrants since the late 1990s when Germany received a flood of refugees fleeing the Balkan wars.
In 2012, however, migrants came for different reasons, for jobs in a one of the few robust European economies. The largest number of immigrants in 2012 arrived from Poland (68,100), Romania (45,700), Hungary (26,200), and Bulgaria (25,000). Of the troubled southern Europe economies, 10,000 migrants came from Greece and 9,000 from Spain.
Unlike previous waves of migration to Germany that were primarily unskilled workers from Europe’s periphery, according to the government’s report the 2012 migrants were younger and skilled. So much so that the German Labor Minister told the press that “All sides will profit hugely from the influx because of the new wave of immigrations is younger and better educated than the average population.” Comments like this were made to assuage two groups of people in Germany, the business community that worries about a shortage of skilled labor, and the far right nationalists who are highly critical of the influx of unskilled foreigners who, they argue, come to Germany mainly to take advantage of liberal unexmployment and health policies.
Read the Spiegel Online International article here