General News, Immigration: Multi-cultural mix only worthwhile for employers, 25.01.2015

Immigration: Multi-cultural mix only worthwhile for employers


It has almost become common courtesy among most of the German media to accuse politicians of their "failure" with regard to their integration policy. One of the most established topoi has been to refer to other "Western" nations, which allegedly are "more open" and are better able to put integration into practice than Germany. However, this topos has become incredible by now. Be it The Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden - all these "multi-cultural" model countries face integration problems, which result in youth unemployment, crime and political-religious radicalisation. France struggles especially with young immigrants (1). These problems have actually been known, but it is only since the recent events that they have aroused attention.   While only a couple of years ago France was described as a model country, the French integration policy is now considered to have failed. The German regulations for citizenship were frowned upon and considered "folkish" whereas the French legislation of children of immigrants born in France automatically receiving French citizenship was considered "modern" (2). The by now infamous youth unemployment among immigrants is evidence of the fact that a (French) passport is no guarantee for integration per se. In Germany, the job situation for young immigrants is better and their unemployment rate is relatively low compared with other European countries. This is due to the educational system, but especially due to a better developed vocational training.

Although German labour market integration works better than elsewhere, the percentage of people being unemployed or receiving social security benefits is higher among immigrants than among the indigenous population. (3). Recently published reports about public profits through immigration, allegedly based on scientific evidence, were grossly misleading: They confined themselves to the social security record and omitted the costs for public infrastructure. Reliable calculations taking into account all cash flows show that immigration has a negative impact on public coffers. (4). If employer representatives promote immigration, it is - from their point of view - quite understandable: immigration increases labour supply and thus strengthens the employers' bargaining hand, particularly when it comes to driving down wages. Of course these facts are withheld; instead it is argued that Germany "needs" immigration due to its decreasing younger population. And yet, immigration - as long as it remains in reasonably realistic dimensions - cannot stop but only slow down the ageing of the population (5). In any case, the pension system will not be "saved" this way.

In order for immigration to "pay off" at least on the job market, immigrants would need to be significantly more productive than they have been so far. That is why more "qualified" immigrants are demanded. But where should they come from? Countries with a well-qualified population suffer from low birth rates, which is especially true for Central Eastern Europe. (6). These countries have highly qualified labour, i.e. assistant doctors. In the Czech Republic they earn about 1.000 €, while they receive about 4.000 € in (gross) salary in Germany (7). That is why so many doctors emigrate benefitting from the free movement of labour within the EU. All countries in Central Eastern Europe suffer the consequences of this brain drain while already having to cope with a fading junior generation. On the other hand, these countries face serious problems with the integration of low-qualified members of ethnic minorities (especially the "Roma" people) into the job markets. Here, further "challenges of integration" in terms of (non-European) immigration are not welcome. This explains the scepticism towards a multi-cultural societal model, which is for instance expressed by the Hungarian Prime Minister Orban known to be a favoured stereotype enemy of the Western media. (8). Their zeal for accusing politicians unfortunately does not keep pace with their analysis of the real problems.


(1)  This is also shown by the shocking reactions of immigrant pupils to the recent attacks. Cf. Michaela Wiegel: Charlie Hebdo. Hass in Frankreichs Klassenzimmern, FAZ-Online 16th Jan 2015.
(2)  A critical viewpoint: Herwig Birg: Migrationsdiskurse in Deutschland zwischen Politik, Propaganda und Wissenschaft. Opening presentation at the Annual Meeting of the German Association for Demography, Wiesbaden 2003, pg. 2 ff., online: http://pub.uni-bielefeld.de/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=2529186&fileOId=2529187.
(3)  Cf. Migrationsherkunft und Risiko des Hartz-IV-Bezugs (Abbildung), in iDAF News of the Week, 2014/11, 11th June 2014, http://www.i-daf.org/aktuelles/aktuelles-einzelansicht/archiv/2014/06/11/artikel/zuwanderung-fakten-und-mediale-nebelkerzen.html.
(4)  Cf. Sinn, Head of Ifo: Warum die Zuwanderung die Staatskasse belastet, FAZ-Online, 2nd Jan 2015, http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/ifo-chef-sinn-warum-die-zuwanderung-die-staatskasse-belastet-13349123.html.
(5)  This is impressively shown by UN calculations regarding „replacement migration“ which are featured in the following article: Herwig Birg: 188 Millionen Einwanderer zum Ausgleich? Demographische Alterung und Bevölkerungsschrumpfung bei uns – Konsequenzen für das soziale Sicherungssystem, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12th April 2000, pg. 10. In view of such calculations, Renate Schmidt called hopes to solve Germany's demographic problems with the help of immigration an "illusion". Cf: Quote of the Week 35-36/2010, http://altewebsite.i-daf.org/330-0-Wochen-35-36-2010.html.
(6)  The problem of a fading junior generation also concerns Southern Europe as well as non-European countries. Thus, poaching qualified employees is usually no sensible, generalizable strategy. Cf.  iDAF-Newsletter of weeks 35-36 / 2010, http://altewebsite.i-daf.org/329-0-Wochen-35-36-2010.html.
(7)  In 2014, the number of doctors emigrating from the Czech Republic reached an all-time high. Lenka Petrášová reported about this on 8th Dec 2014 in Mladá fronta (pg. 1 and pg.3). Translated into German for IDAF by Maria Pesekova. The president of the Czech medical chamber Milan Kubek is quoted here, quantifying the salary of an assistant doctor in the Czech Republic at 23.000 koruna (approx. 830 Euro) and in Germany at 4.000 Euro. It is obvious that - even adjusted for purchasing power and taking into account taxes to be paid - emigrated Czech doctors are able to earn several times as much in Germany.
(8)  Cf. http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article136334016/Seltsame-Gen-Theorien-ueber-Migranten.html.