Germany fact of the day

by on July 27, 2014 at 10:31 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Law | Permalink

…in Germany, the government is rolling out a red carpet by simplifying immigration procedures, funding free language classes, even opening “welcome centers” for newcomers looking to carve out a piece of the German dream.

In the rankings of the globe’s most prosperous countries, this economic powerhouse of 82 million has now leapfrogged Canada, Britain, Italy and Spain to become the largest destination for immigrants after the United States, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The article is here.

Bill July 27, 2014 at 10:41 pm

I read der Spiegel just to follow european news. Germans, from my reading, are getting uncomfortable with immigration.

Do you have to speak German to get a job? Are there enclaves of Romanians who serve as day laborers.

It may be a red carpet, but some in society want to pull the rug out from under the new arrivals. Unless they are engineers from Spain or Italy.

Art Deco July 27, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Germans, from my reading, are getting uncomfortable with immigration.

Well, they better get busy popping babies.

Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta July 29, 2014 at 2:14 am

First comes popping.

Then the babies.

Once you pop you just can’t stop?

Andreas Moser July 30, 2014 at 8:24 am

It’s not just about making babies. A lot of Germans are leaving Germany (like myself), very often not even for economic or professional reasons, but just because we want to explore the world and we don’t want to be stuck in one country just we were coincidentally born there.

People moving within Europe for me almost isn’t a case of immigration anymore. When I moved between countries in the EU, it required less paperwork than a move between two cities in Germany.

Adrian Ratnapala July 28, 2014 at 1:29 am

Whether you need German or not for a job is left for the market to decide. For most jobs, you need to speak the language. But for many skilled jobs, English is enough. I am a contractor who moves between customers, more of them insist on English than on German, and those who insist on both are usually ok with my pretty bad German.

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 2:18 am

It really depends on the company – SAP’s corporate language is English, for example. But anyone working for a company like this one – – German is pretty much essential. Just looking at their customer list – – provides an idea why.

To put it a bit differently – global German companies use English pretty much the same way any global company does. The German Mittelstand tends to use German, as the Mittelstand tends to supply other German companies – including those global German ones.

Art Deco July 28, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Whether you need German or not for a job is left for the market to decide.

I’d like to be lumped with those who think if you’re going to live in Germany (or Austria, or much of Switzerland), you ought to learn at least the literary standard version of the language.

Das July 28, 2014 at 8:50 am

“I read der Spiegel just to follow european news.”

Just remember that Spiegel – especially the online one – is far too the left. The New York Times is a conservative outlet in comparison.

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 9:32 am

Actually, in German terms, Der Spiegel is more or less center left – and just looking at who advertises in it should be enough to show how far left companies like Postbank, Telekom, the FAZ (which is also more left than the NYT), Bauhaus, or e-on are, right?

If one is looking for something Germans consider left, it starts at the TAZ –

Bob July 27, 2014 at 10:53 pm

They have plenty of immigrants coming from within the EU, so it’s not like they can stop those. The best they can do is precisely what is described here, to try to make it easier for them to integrate, instead of creating a new set of ghettos full of Spaniards and Greek that barely know the language.

They didn’t want to have the Spanish government to make it easier for the unemployed Spaniards to get a job? Congratulations, they are now moving to Germany. The German taxpayer takes care of them anyway.

prior_approval July 27, 2014 at 11:06 pm

‘The German taxpayer takes care of them anyway.’

Wrong – but then, I only say that because I’m a German taxpayer.

Art Deco July 27, 2014 at 11:44 pm

so it’s not like they can stop those

They can leave the EU, which a sensible country would do.

commentateur July 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

I bet you’re in the UK or US. The only places where there is a majority of popular opinion supporting exits from the EU.

Leave the EU … And what? Become Argentina? No thanks. That’s why approx 65% of people in PIIGS want to stay in. Poor them, not having access to US or UK propaganda.

The ECB is much better CB than IRE, POR, GRE, SPA, ITA, FRA could ever hope for.

John Smith July 29, 2014 at 8:32 am

Isn’t Germany essentially the means behind the ECB? That’s the sense I got back when Greece hit the skids.

commentateur July 29, 2014 at 9:34 am

Of course.

BuBa took over the BIS which formed the ECB thereafter.
The ECB/BIS has been preparing for the failure of the dollar as Global Reserve for a VERY long time.
European Central Bankers have designed a better system for final settlement of international trade. The legal and logistical framework will be ready at the time of the AQR. You’ll see it within two years.
The power is shifting from the USD//FED/IMF to EUR/ECB/BIS.

John Smith July 29, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Commentateur – this is a really interesting perspective.

I think most plebeians, myself included, consider Germany’s exit from the EU as a means of avoiding the dilution of their uber-productive culture by the has-beens of Europe.

Your perspective is that, by staying in the EU, the German ruling class, the puppet masters of the ECB, have a chance to challenge, and ultimately overcome the power of the US Fed.

I would argue that these two perspectives are actually reconcilable, once you differentiate between your average German, and the power that be.

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 12:01 am

The comments over at the Washington Post tell a rather different story than what the WP (and T. Cowen) intended. Let me quote them


Germany is welcoming educated, skilled LEGAL workers. The Spanish boyfriend of a relative worked in Germany, legally, for a time. He learned German, observed the laws of the country, and eventually returned to Spain. That’s far different than having 12 million unskilled uneducated illegal aliens, many who didn’t even complete grade school and who are functionally illiterate in their own languages as well as in English. And it’s far different than having a population that is NOT having children because of fears for their economic futures. (See the Post’s article this week on one such couple.) Before our current economic difficulties as recently as a decade ago, the US birthrate was ABOVE replacement at 2.1 even without immigration. Moreover, we have no particular need for more STEM workers as studies show there is no general shortage of native-born STEM workers.


I truly believe that the Washington post thinks readers are stupid and will not notice that Germany is looking for and taking skilled workers not millions of mostly illiterate people who snuck across a vast mostly unguarded porous border.

9:41 PM CST [Edited]
Gee, sometime back when Spain was in the first throes of its depression, I suggested in a post that if the USG wants Spanish speaking immigrants, why not advertise in Spain.

University educated with a job offer of 50K to 60K. Who would not want these people? The Libs with their “racism” attacks are just too delusional to see that allowing millions of uneducated baby factories and potential Drug Cartel members into one’s Country will eventually make one’s country just like the one they came from. This is NOT rocket Science.

And, as another Poster stated there is no citizenship or Welfare benefits granted. This is simply intelligent immigration NOT National Suicide.

Germany has a great system; why would they want to screw it up with ideas from those whose societies don’t work as well?

I believe that after many generations, the Turks have finally gotten a 1/2 Turk in the German Parliament. That is wisdom; not racism

Willitts July 28, 2014 at 12:06 am

Kenya has finally gotten a 1/2 Kenyan in the White House.

Just kidding. Couldn’t resist a perfect lead in.

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 1:58 am

Jokes aside, the realities of Turkish life in Germany are dismal. Germany has almost the largest education gap separating natives from immigrants of any country in the world. See “The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia” (

However, that’s the probably not the worst of it. Read ‘The Death of a Muslim Woman: “The Whore Lived Like a German”‘ about the life and death (murder) of Hatin Surucu in Spiegel ( Useful clue, she wasn’t killed by skinheads.

Reading the WaPo you would never know that the most influential book on immigration in Germany was written by Thilo Sarrazin. The title of his book should tell you something “Germany Does Away With Itself”.

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 2:35 am

Well, Sarazin is also well known for a couple of other helpful contributions to German discourse –

Sarazin doesn’t just think immigrants are a a problem. He also thinks poor people, the aged, and children born to the wrong people are a real threat.

There is a reason nobody bothers to pay any attention to him at this point – but then, 4 euros a day should be enough for anyone eat like royalty, right?

Handle July 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

If one looks for published books translated into English, one also mysteriously would never know that the most influential book on immigration in Germany was written by Thilo Sarrazin. Can’t even get a digital version on Kindle. Strange in this day and age. Too bad about that.

Das July 28, 2014 at 8:57 am

Sarrazin has been the object of an unbelievable smear campaing by the guardians of the status quo. There is a huge gap in how the elites wish (mainly turkish) immigration to work and how it actually works out on the ground, where the real people are.

But then public discourse on kindergarden level (“he said something mean! make him stop daddy!”) is probably something
that haunts every western democracy now…

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

‘Sarrazin has been the object of an unbelievable smear campaing by the guardians of the status quo’

Well sure, like the CDU – ‘Der CDU-Politiker und frühere Bundesminister für Jugend, Familie und Gesundheit, Heiner Geißler, stellte fest: „Die Fehler, Irreführungen und defizitären Argumente des Senators schreien zum Himmel und werfen ein schlechtes Licht auf die Berliner Finanzverwaltung.“ Man dürfe auch fragen, „ob ein Berliner Regierungsmitglied mit ‚Geiz ist geil‘-Parolen arme Leute folgenlos verhöhnen darf.“ Wenn Massenarmut in Wut und Aggression umschlügen, trügen auch „politische Provokateure wie Sarrazin“ dafür die Verantwortung.’

Notice that this attack concerns Sarzin’s views concerning the poor – it took Sarazin a while to work up to immigrants. He has been making a fool of himself for years, though you can still probably buy the cookbook he inspired –

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

The Thilo Sarrazin Wikipedia page has all sorts of useful information. A few useful quotes

“With a view of the strong and sometimes polemical reactions against Sarrazin, some have argued that in Germany freedom of speech is being lost, as pressure to conform to political correctness is suppressing and silencing diverging opinions. Sarrazin’s views were echoed to a varying degree by notable figures of the German public sphere including German-Jewish author Ralph Giordano, industrialist Hans-Olaf Henkel, journalist and Islam critic Udo Ulfkotte and FAZ publisher Berthold Kohler.

Turkish and Islamic organizations have accused Sarrazin of racism and damaging Germany’s reputation abroad. The prominent German-Turkish sociologist and best-selling author Necla Kelek, who has defended Sarrazin, introduced him at a Berlin press conference in late August 2010 attended by roughly 300 journalists, as big a turn out as for the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rare press appearances. Kelek said Sarrazin addressed “bitter truths” in his new book and the chattering classes have judged it without reading it.”

Of course, the real problem is that Thilo Sarrazin told the truth and the truth isn’t PC.

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

‘Of course, the real problem is that Thilo Sarrazin told the truth and the truth isn’t PC.’

You mean like this truth? – ‘Im Mai 2009 sagte Sarrazin gegenüber dem Magazin Stern zum Umgang Arbeitsloser mit Energie: „‚Hartz-IV‘-Empfänger sind erstens mehr zu Hause; zweitens haben sie es gerne warm, und drittens regulieren viele die Temperatur mit dem Fenster“’

Or this one? – ‘Die Rentenerhöhung vom Juli 2009 nannte er eine „völlig unsinnige Maßnahme“, stattdessen müsse die Bundesregierung die Bürger darauf vorbereiten, dass Altersbezüge „langfristig auf das Niveau einer Grundsicherung“ sinken werden.’

Because neither of those statements have anything to do with political correctness, they have to do with his laughable opinions. Sarrazin was already a laughingstock because of his 4 euro menu statements – people just kept laughing at him.

Especially after admitting he just made up his numbers – ‘Der Direktor des Berlin-Instituts für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung, Reiner Klingholz, kritisierte, vieles von dem, was Sarrazin behauptete, sei statistisch nicht belegbar, und nannte als Beispiel die These, dass 70 Prozent der türkischen und 90 Prozent der arabischen Bevölkerung Berlins den Staat ablehnten und in großen Teilen weder integrationswillig noch integrationsfähig seien. Konfrontiert mit dieser Kritik äußerte Sarrazin einem SZ-Reporter gegenüber, wenn man keine Zahl habe, dann müsse „man eine schöpfen, die in die richtige Richtung weist. Und wenn sie keiner widerlegen kann, dann setze ich mich mit meiner Schätzung durch.“’ To paraphrase what Sarrazin himself said, he made up numbers to support his argument, and he feels that if made up numbers are accepted, his argument wins.

But when a CDU politician accuses you of hypocritical cynicism, you know you’ve made the grade – ‘Bundesfinanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) kritisierte Sarrazin mit den Worten: „Seine Methode, so zu tun, als ob es Denk- oder Sprechverbote in Deutschland zu bestimmten Themen gibt, gegen die er dann verstößt, hat etwas sehr Kalkulierendes. Und ist dann auch noch unsinnig.“’

Of course, for a man struggling so manfully against political correctedness, it is no surprise he went to court in an attempt to force a newspaper to retract its opinion about him – ‘Am 12. September 2012 scheiterte Sarrazin mit einem Antrag beim Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main, der Zeitung die tageszeitung (taz) durch eine einstweilige Verfügung verbieten zu lassen, die folgende Äußerung weiter zu verbreiten: „Sarrazin wird inzwischen von Journalisten benutzt wie eine alte Hure, die zwar billig ist, aber für ihre Zwecke immer noch ganz brauchbar, wenn man sie auch etwas aufhübschen muss… fragt sich nur, wer da Hure und wer Drübersteiger ist?“.’ (However, it should be noted that taz was fined after publishing a column whose author wished Sarrazin a stroke.)

And with his latest book, Sarrazin is again being terribly, terribly discriminated against – ‘Sarrazin stellte sein Buch auf zahlreichen Autorenlesungen in Deutschland vor u.a. auf der Leipziger Buchmesse. Der Spiegel listete das Buch bei Neuerscheinung auf Platz vier der Bestsellerliste für Sachbücher.[6] Im März war es für zwei Wochen auf Platz eins.’

And when the more than right of center Welt has this opinion, well congratulations at making yourself look foolish – ‘Die Welt titelte: „Der Pedant Thilo Sarrazin schafft sich selbst ab“ und schrieb: „Seine enorme Präsenz in den Medien in den vergangenen Jahren, ein logischer Widerspruch zum konstatierten Totschweigen.“ Außerdem trage er seine Bildung „er vor sich hier, manchmal aber wird der selbsternannte Pedant Sarrazin den eigenen Ansprüchen nicht gerecht.“

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm


For fun I looked up some of Thilo Sarrazin’s “controversial” statements. Quote from Der Spiegel

“Sarrazin’s comments in an interview with the national Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag illustrate his propensity to assume that there are relevant genetic differences among ethnic groups: “All Jews share a certain gene, all Basques have certain genes that make them different from other people.” This statement is scientifically untenable, because the genetic makeup of all human beings is based on an original population of about 10,000 individuals. “All human genes already existed in this population, and these genes are found in all of today’s ethnic groups,” says Diethard Tautz, president of the German Life Sciences Association (VBIO).”

Sarrazin isn’t going to win a Nobel for his knowledge of genetics any time soon. However, he easily bests his opponents. Jewish and Basque ancestry can be trivially determined with DNA tests. If Diethard Tautz was even minimally knowledgeable (or minimally honest) he would admit the racial and ethnic groups can be easily distinguished with DNA tests.

If all humans shared the same genes (and gene variants), this wouldn’t be possible… But it is. It’s called an existence proof. Sarrazin wins, Spiegel and Tuatz lose.

Of course, there isn’t just one Jewish or Basque gene that establishes Jewish or Basque identity. Generally it’s a pattern of small variations across hundreds (or thousands) of genes. In the case of Jews and Basques, Sarrazin is perhaps closer than people might think. Very specific Y chromosome patterns are highly concentrated in the Jewish population (notably the sub-populations made up of Cohens and Levis). For Basques, blood type information suggests that they share some very specific genes. In some parts of the Basque region as much as 50% of the population has type O Rh- blood. This combination is very rare in the rest of the world.

John Smith July 29, 2014 at 8:50 am

So this guy basically says that people in need, and people born into situations that will likely leave them needy are threats… according to PA.

It’s funny, there is an honest case to be made here in the US that a battle between the *individual* makers and the takers is being waged. In the meantime, the limited resources for which this battle is being fought are deteriorating, and damage to our political process seems to be mounting. Considering one side supports our way of life, and the other, well, doesn’t for the most part, it may be reasonable, if not harsh, to label the other side a threat.

I’m not speaking in defense of Sarazin – I know nothing about him. But PA’s example doesn’t exactly point to a raging lunatic that should be dismissed out of hand.

Dan Weber July 28, 2014 at 9:31 am

What are the requirements to get German citizenship? (The WaPo article doesn’t mention “citizen” once, although it appear a lot in the comments.)

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 9:49 am

Quite a bit, actually, though it only costs 225 euros. These include permanent residency as a prerequisite for applying, passing a citizenship and German language test, at least 7 years residency, independent support through a job/income (including all family members), no criminal convictions, and generally, the need to give up your former citizenship. However, if one is an EU citizen, there is essentially no reason to become a German citizen.

‘ * unbefristetes Aufenthaltsrecht zum Zeitpunkt der Einbürgerung

* bestandener Einbürgerungstest (Kenntnisse über die Rechts- und Gesellschaftsordnung sowie die Lebensverhältnisse in Deutschland)

* seit acht Jahren gewöhnlicher und rechtmäßiger Aufenthalt in Deutschland (diese Frist kann nach erfolgreichem Besuch eines Integrationskurses auf sieben Jahre verkürzt werden, bei besonderen Integrationsleistungen sogar auf sechs Jahre)

* eigenständige Sicherung des Lebensunterhalts (auch für unterhaltsberechtigte Familienangehörige) ohne Sozialhilfe und Arbeitslosengeld II

* ausreichende Deutschkenntnisse

* keine Verurteilung wegen einer Straftat

* Bekenntnis zur freiheitlichen demokratischen Grundordnung des Grundgesetzes der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

* grundsätzlich der Verlust beziehungsweise die Aufgabe der alten Staatsangehörigkeit (hier gibt es Ausnahmen je nach Herkunftsland, bitte sprechen Sie mit der Einbürgerungsbehörde).’

Andreas Moser July 30, 2014 at 8:29 am

The residency requirement is reduced to 6 years if you speak German at least at B2 level. If you are married to a German spouse, the standard residency requirement is only 3 years.

EU (and some other) citizens are not required to give up their primary citizenship(s).

Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta July 29, 2014 at 2:19 am

The Spaniards, Greeks, Italians and Poles are all European citizens and are just as entitled to live and work in Germany as Californians are permitted to work in Seattle or North Dakota.

For them no naturalization is necessary.

ThomasH July 27, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Perhaps the idea is to promote rapid assimilation by widening the rang of countries of origin. Too many from any one place in any one place slows down assimilation, like Somalis in Minneapolis..

Willitts July 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Assimilation is now considered racist, or so I’m told.

Lucky for me I emigrated before this realization. I don’t know more than a few words of Polish or Canadian.

John Smith July 29, 2014 at 8:53 am

I, for one, am thrilled your filthy Canadian dialect got left at the border!

Art Deco July 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm

The country has had chronically subreplacement fertility since 1970. Net improvement in total fertility rates since 1979 has been nil. They fall short by about a third. This is what societies are reduced to when they cannot be bothered to bear and rear children.

J July 27, 2014 at 11:54 pm

And why is that bad?

Willitts July 28, 2014 at 12:02 am

Because your workforce becomes increasingly inculcated with the habits of less productive and mooching foreigners who have no stake in keeping your culture alive. The benefits of diversity evaporate quickly and you become a foreigner in your own birthplace.

careless July 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

he asked why low fertility was bad, Willitts

Willitts July 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm

And I answered him. Low fertility rates means your worker replacement favors immigrants rather than natural born citizens by sheer size of the populations alone.

Let’s suppose an 18 year old German is competing for low skill work with a 32 year old Turk. Let’s also suppose that the Turk, by reason of numerous years of experience, is better at the job and his inferior elementary and secondary schooling is not too detrimental.

In the above situation, one could say Germany is better off. However, you now have an unemployed 18 year old German with no ability to gain skills in his native land. He could move elsewhere, but that exacerbates the conversion of Germany into Turkey.

In terms of civic participation, the Turk is comparatively less interested in maintaining German culture. The Turk, with a family to support, puts a load on German quasi-public goods that our 18 year old German likely does not. The Turk and his progeny have, on average, a higher fertility rate. So you end up with a slowly dying German cultural identity and, with it, the socio-political-economic arrangement that made Germany a desirable place to emigrate to.

If you are agnostic about the evolution of cultures within arbitrarily drawn international borders, then the Turk displacing opportunity of the German is no problem.

I am not agnostic to cultural superiority and favoring status quo of culture. Mass immigration is an invasion without weapons.

There are enough abject poor people in the world who, when diffused across borders to an economic equilibrium, move every country to beggar state status. It would be better to move capital into these poor countries keeping them within their own culture. The problem is that those countries often have capital controls and corruption. The labor restrictions offset the effects of capital restrictions.

Art Deco July 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Aspects explained below. Just bracketing out questions about the comparative productivity of immigrants v. natives, ethnic fissures injure the quality of the common and can induce a politics based on dueling between competing communal groups (or, as the case is in the U.S., crooked political factions mobilizing on ethnic lines against their own cultural adversaries). Diversity is something you manage and adjust to; diversity is not strength.

A.B Prosper July 30, 2014 at 2:22 am

It Isn’t and really only economics obsessed libertarians and the elite thing its bad. Low fertility so long as there is little immigration is good for workers since it increase wages. The thing is the elite, what Marxists call Capital and various ruling classes hate having less citizens to boss around and use for their schemes and really hate paying more wages so they invariably bring in foreigners to replace them

The sad thing is a responsive state that limits immigration , isn’t drenched in cultural Marxism and can deal with the economic repercussions of technology and trade will probably recover. Its just the toxic combination of immigration, Cultural Marxism and failure to respond to technology (for example not typically reducing hours) and trade (by becoming export dependent for example) will end up in ruin.

And Art Deco’s assertion that more available land is a bad thing is shared by the ruling classes, cheap land is wealth and power and the elite are really only elite because everyone else is below them. People in no way need to be herded into cities to be “governed:” by their “betters” People, especially rural ones can handle their own affairs quite nicely

That said the economic efficiency arguments, civic density allowing for more population and theoretically more production is accurate to a point but its still wrong headed . Culture is a lot more than population size the GDP or what crud is produced by Siemens .

Art Deco July 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Because all of us come into this world in a dependent position and most of us leave in the same circumstances. When you have 40 elderly citizens relying on 18 grandchildren for economic support and domestic labor you have a problem. There was a long-term demographic implosion in Europe from the mid 3d century to the mid 7th century. Lots more land per person at the end than at the beginning. Worked out real well for all concerned.

commentateur July 29, 2014 at 1:45 am

“And why is that bad?”

See Japan.

Matt July 28, 2014 at 1:03 am

Is more land per capita a bad thing?

Art Deco July 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm


Matt July 28, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Why is more land per capita a bad thing?

Willitts July 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm

This is not news. Turks and Albanians have been flocking to Germany for work for decades. When the wall came down, I heard that immigration was slowed to accommodate a lot of unemployed Ossies.

sam July 28, 2014 at 12:51 am

Was is der Unterschied zwischen einem Ossi und einem Türken? Der Türke kann Deutsch und hat Arbeit.

Das July 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

Blast from the past, the early nineties…

Willitts July 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm


Andreas Moser July 30, 2014 at 8:31 am

But Albanians are repaying this with staunch support for the German football team:

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 12:34 am

A typically confused American article, starting with the fact that there is a major distinction between what rights EU citizens have, including the right to live and work anywhere in the EU, and those who are not EU citizens.

I know someone who is currently a UK citizen (may soon be a Scottish citizen instead, though), who lives in France, and who manages a plant in Germany. Which in the terms used so casually in the article, makes him and his family an example of French migrant labor immigration, apparently.

He also lived for several years in the U.S., working for the same multinational. Apparently making him, and his family, American immigrants, though not migrant laborers.

And if he is transferred to another country as part of how that multinational exchanges personnel – let’s say Brasil – he and his family become Brasilian immigrants instead.

The American belief that working in another country is the same as intending to become a citizen or permanent resident of that country makes one an ‘immigrant’ is simply incorrect in the specific context of the EU.

It is also incorrect in a broader sense, but at this point, it seems as if some Americans think it more important to jail undocumented workers – you know, an executive from Mercedes ( or a worker from Honda (

Thankfully for those two undocumented immigrants, the incidents happened in 2011. These days, if they had any children living with them, we would probably be reading about how such undocumented immigrants were threatening the health of America’s school children by having their own children be educated in schools funded at American tax payer expense.

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 2:01 am


Why don’t you tell us about how well immigrant children are doing in Germany’s schools. The statistics show that immigrant student performance in Germany is (almost) the worst in the world. Vastly worse than the United States. Of course, perhaps you would like to discuss the murder of Hatin Surucu. At least she wasn’t killed by an ethnic German…

VerySeriousSam July 28, 2014 at 2:54 am

“Why don’t you tell us about how well immigrant children are doing in Germany’s schools”

Why don’t you tell us about the causes – WHY are they doing so badly?

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm


WHY? Who knows? The list of explanations includes all of the obvious ones; culture, genes, selection bias, discrimination, poverty, bad schools, etc. You have, no doubt, heard them all many times. However, the germane point is the immigrant under-performance is substantial, persistent, and unfix-able to date. As a consequence, it is highly appropriate for any country (including Germany and the U.S.) to restrict immigration accordingly.

Note that in a few countries immigrant children outperform (slightly) the natives. Typically Canada, Australia, and New Zealand show up in this group (it varies by test and year). Why? Because the target skilled immigrants rather than the unskilled. Note that the U.S. approach is the exact reverse. By tolerating illegal immigration (very heavily unskilled) and basing legal immigration on chain migration (family reunification) we get very low skill immigrants (on average).

Edward P. Lazear’s (CEA / Harvard Economics) paper “Mexican Assimilation in the United States” has a wealth of statistics showing the raw deal from south of the border. Summary quote.

“By almost any measure, immigrants from Mexico have performed worse and become assimilated more slowly than immigrants from other countries. Still, Mexico is a huge country, with many high ability people who could fare very well in the United States. Why have Mexicans done so badly? The answer is primarily immigration policy.”

See also “Lazear on Immigration”. Money quote

“Immigrants from Mexico do far worse when they migrate to the United States than do immigrants from other countries. Those difficulties are more a reflection of U.S. immigration policy than they are of underlying cultural differences. The following facts from the 2000 U.S. Census reveal that Mexican immigrants do not move into mainstream American society as rapidly as do other immigrants.”

Let me ask the reverse question. Why were Jewish immigrants so successful 100+ years ago? Clearly they were poor (on average) and didn’t attend (back then) elite schools. They were subject to some discrimination. Yet they were highly successful. Asian immigrants (including some quite poor Asian immigrants) were highly successful in the past and are highly successful now. They clearly encountered more discrimination than Jews. Indeed at one point Japanese-Americans were the single most successful professional group in the United States in spite of being the only group sent to internment camps in WWII.

Art Deco July 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I know someone who is currently a UK citizen (may soon be a Scottish citizen instead, though), who lives in France, and who manages a plant in Germany. Which in the terms used so casually in the article, makes him and his family an example of French migrant labor immigration, apparently. He also lived for several years in the U.S., working for the same multinational. Apparently making him, and his family, American immigrants, though not migrant laborers.And if he is transferred to another country as part of how that multinational exchanges personnel – let’s say Brasil – he and his family become Brasilian immigrants instead.

Well. Aren’t we special?

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 2:27 am

‘Why don’t you tell us about how well immigrant children are doing in Germany’s schools.’

Sure – all the ones I know have much higher abi scores than the German friends. But this is just anecdata, of course.

‘ The statistics show that immigrant student performance in Germany is (almost) the worst in the world.’

A link backing up your assertion would be nice – like this one Because this is considered a real problem in Germany – and has been, for more than a decade. Germany is full of problems, by the way – it is a real sociaölist hell hole, after all.

‘Of course, perhaps you would like to discuss the murder of Hatin Surucu’

No, the murder of Michèle Kiesewetter remains a bit more topical around here – and she was murdered by ethnic Germans.

arne.b July 28, 2014 at 4:50 am

“[A]ll the [immigrant children] I know have much higher abi scores than the German friends.”

Whose friends? It seems to me every Spiegel article about immigrant success stories in Germany contains some variant of the realization “As an immigrant, you have to work twice as hard as a German for similar success”. So maybe what you observe is because immigrant children with abi scores around the average of said German friends never make it far enough to get into your social circles? ;-)

prior_approval July 28, 2014 at 5:28 am

See, that is the problem – it depends on who you know, where you live, and whose children we are talking about.

Because the first problem, how do you count children from India? As ‘immigrants,’ though they are not German citizens? I should note that a number of the people I am referring to work for SAP, Mercedes, or Siemens – their children did equally well in American schools, for example. Which, using American terms, apparently means that they were American immigrants then.

Not every person with a ‘Migrationshintergrund’ is poor or uneducated, after all.

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 5:04 pm


Check the links provided in my posts. They are all aggregates so they include high-performing and low-performing immigrants (and their children). The aggregates are dismal to say the least.

Das July 28, 2014 at 9:06 am

Hint: The immigrants who get to higher educations are not the immigrants to get the average down. Everyone knows someone who knows the child of an immigrated persian doctor (or italian artist or american economist) who is great at everything – but persian doctors are only the tiniest part of all the immigration

If you want to talk about german immigration you would need two different data sets: One for turkish immigration and one for all the other countries of origin.

You would find that the latter group has on average far better scores in school, better jobs later and less problems anywhere else too.

The idea that all immigration can be regarded as one big data blob – as if the individual wouldn’t matter – is the single most stupid thing done in all this debate.

Peter Schaeffer July 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm


I did provide a link and you even replied to it.

“Germany has almost the largest education gap separating natives from immigrants of any country in the world. See “The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia” (”

However, other sources exist as well.

“Academic achievement among different groups in Germany”

“Integration and Education: Immigrants in Germany Falling Behind – A new study released by the OECD shows that immigrants in Germany perform much worse at school than their counterparts elsewhere. Even more worrying: the second generation is falling even further behind.”

QWERTY July 28, 2014 at 4:31 am

Come on Tyler – you can do better than this…

They are looking for educated immigrants from other EU countries. A lot of people from Spain and eastern europe at the moment.

Its not like that the germans (or the german government) are hoping that lots of uneducated arabs are moving to germany.

Germany already has a lot of problems with non-european immigrants, e.g. from Turkey. It is hard to find Germans who wants further turkish immigration.

Axa July 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

If they cared about educated immigrants, they’ll find some way to bring educated germans back from Switzerland.

Bill July 28, 2014 at 8:47 am

I would be interested in whether, in Spain or Italy, there are more college students taking German than in the past.

Andreas Moser July 30, 2014 at 8:33 am

The number of German language students with the Goethe Institute have risen dramatically in Spain, Portugal and Greece.

collin July 28, 2014 at 9:40 am

A country that has relatively open borders when the economy is doing well and a very low birth rate does not mean the country appreciates immigrants. (Sort of the Singapore Solution) Just wait until the economy stagnates and then see if the country is still open to immigration.

Helen DeWitt July 28, 2014 at 11:28 am

Last time I looked (2012) the free languages courses only cover beginning and intermediate German. A highly qualified immigrant who knew the basics and wanted to get to level C1 or C2 (the advanced levels necessary for interaction at his or her professional level) would not be helped by what’s on offer. The result, as far as I can tell, is that Germany doesn’t really make best use of these immigrants: they may have to compete with the less-educated for jobs where basic German is enough to get by (presumably making it harder for the relatively unqualified to find employment as well as depriving German business of their higher-level skills).

Peter Lund July 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

As if language learning required a teacher, a classroom, and someone to officially call it a class. As if one needed permission. As if the German state(s) had to pay for those classes.

Once you have the basics in place you can easily bootstrap to a higher level on your own and then sit for the C1/C2 exams.

There’s plenty of freely available material to practice with: all the public TV stations in Germany and Austria (probably also Schwitzerland) have web sites where one can view lots of shows in German, often even with subtitles available. You can watch the news, children’s shows, cooking shows, crime shows, political talkshows — practically anything you want.

It’s really just a question of Sitzfleisch.

stalin July 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Now if we can get a common border between Germany and Mexico……

genauer July 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Germany has open borders with all neighbors (SchengenTreaty)

Thor July 28, 2014 at 8:51 pm

That Stalin, always trying to change the borders of neighbouring countries…

Zach July 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Having been a Ph.D. working in Germany, and having worked with many foreigners in the US, a few observations:

1) It is very noticeable how much less time I spent dealing with the Auslaenderamt than people spend dealing with the INS in the US. Basically, I filled out the forms according to a checklist, brought them to the office at the appointed time, and paid a small fee. The whole process literally took about 15 minutes.

2) Conducting business in English means that Germany gets access to high quality workers from Eastern Europe or North Africa/Middle East, who learn English as a foreign language.

3) Germany promotes itself as a natural place for people from smaller European countries to go when they’re seeking bigger and better things than they can find in their home countries.

4) Put it all together, and Germany has a good system for getting desirable immigrants for at least a portion of their careers. They don’t need to learn a third language, they don’t need to go far from home, the bureaucracy is relatively efficient, and there are more jobs and higher wages than nearby competitors.

Zach July 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Frankly, the US could stand to learn a thing or two about immigration and bureaucracy from Germany. Getting a contract done with the University of California — even as an American citizen — was a huge hassle compared to Max Planck.

genauer July 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

at least 10 years ago, as an expat in the US, I always needed a tax lawyer to file my taxes.
Myriads of weird forms.

Back in Germany, I could file by myself in the second year, but lots of copies of bank statements (70 pages), and the occasional visit to the tax lawyer for specific questions.

The last 3 years (with the automated capital gains tax) just 3 effective pages, despite diversified global holdings!

I forgot to declare something 2 years back, long after declaration, the relevant form is not even in the standard drawers anymore.
I got if from the front desk lady, who successfully insisted that I can fill and file it just right there! refund one week later in the bank account.

I thought I am dreaming.

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