Authors: Stephan Sievert, Manuel Slupina, Reiner Klingholz
Published: Berlin: Berlin Institute for Population and Development, 2014
Two Countries – Two Fundamentally Different Approaches to Immigration
A new study from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, sponsored by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, examines avenues for immigration and integration policy in Germany, looking to Canada’s immigration system to answer fundamental questions.
Why Germany needs immigration
- Germany’s population is shrinking and ageing due to low birth rates and ever-increasing life expectancy. Even a net migration gain of 100,000 people per year would not be able to prevent a 12 million decrease in the population size by 2050. A net inflow of 200,000 people per year would reduce the shrinkage to 8 million.
- As the large baby-boom cohorts enter retirement in the coming decades, the population of working age between 15 and 64 will shrink by up to 15 million people between 2010 and 2050. The decline will be particularly pronounced among younger professionals.
- Even higher labour force participation rates among women and older people as well as improving the skills of lower-skilled persons so as to decrease unemployment will only be able to marginally offset the fall in the number of employed persons.
What Germany should do
- Germany must step up its efforts to market the country as an attractive migration destination. At the same time, politicians must make clear their commitment to increased immigration to the population and emphasise its potential benefits. After all, immigration, especially of highly skilled people, can create additional employment.
- Germany must create instruments to effectively administer the immigration of skilled workers. A two-pillar system seems appropriate. This should consist, first, of a points-based system that focuses on highly skilled immigrants, who can fill long-term gaps in the labour force brought about by demographic change. Second, employers should be able to respond flexibly to short-term bottlenecks and recruit newcomers on a temporary basis. However, provided integration is successful, temporary stays should always include the prospect of permanent residency.
- In order to help newcomers find jobs that correspond with their qualifications as quickly as possible, state and non-state actors should offer effective settlement assistance. Like in Canada, this could start before the future immigrants leave their home countries and take the form of information and orientation courses. This support should then continue once they arrive in Germany in the form of bridging and mentoring programs.
- To enable immigrant children to catch up with natives in terms of language proficiency as soon as possible, they should be specifically targeted. From the very beginning, day-care centres and schools should try to include parents in the education of their children. Since individual support for disadvantaged children and youth costs money, particularly needy centres and schools should be identified via socio-economic data and be provided with extra funds. This would also benefit native children from vulnerable families.
Book-ended between the status quo and a clear, practical set of recommendations, above, the authors present their analysis of the Canadian system based on the following questions:
- Why Germany needs to attract more skilled workers from outside the EU
- Why Canada’s immigration policy could be a role model
- Which instruments have proved successful in recruiting immigrants in Canada
- How Canada ensures successful integration
This excellent study includes an introductory essay co-authored by Reiner Klingholz, Director, Berlin Institute for Population and Development, and Olaf Hahn, Director Education, Society and Culture, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the following conclusion:
“Both in Germany and in Canada the number of laws, regulations and edicts concerning migration policy have increased enormously in recent years. This illustrates the growing significance of immigration for these and other developed countries, but also the fact that the challenges policy-makers face are changing all the time, requiring a high degree of flexibility. Precisely because Canada has changed track so often, albeit without abandoning the general paradigm of a high rate of immigration and multiculturalism, it is an excellent model from which to learn. The flexible Canadian model, which exhibits a continuous learning curve, shows how, in designing a managed migration policy, mistakes can be avoided or rectified and obstacles overcome – as well as how immigration can be of maximum benefit to both parties.” (Berlin and Stuttgart, January 2014)
The full report is available in English and German, with a Media release in English, from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development website.
Stephan Sievert (b.1982) obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Maastricht in International Economic Studies with a special focus on Social Economics. He is a member of the research staff at the Berlin Institute for Population and Development.
Manuel Slupina (b.1979) studied Economics at the University of Cologne with a special focus on Economic and Social Geography. He is a member of the research staff at the Berlin Institute for Population and Development.
Dr. Reiner Klingholz (b.1953) has a Doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Hamburg. He is director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development