Germany and the refugees – a love story

Risks and opportunities of the large immigration


1.    The year of the refugees

2015 is a year which was dominated by the topic of refugees. Not because so many new conflicts started or the number of people who are fleeing from wars increased enormous. No, because a small percent of them arrived in Europe. Not by a safety organized way from the international community but they came on their own. Over the Mediterranean Sea where thousands of them drowned. Left behind their home and spend all they have. The European Union was not prepared for this although it was clear that they will come. The civil war in Syria for example already started in 2011. The EU had and has no plan how to handle this situation and how to help the people who are arriving or which are still fleeing from the conflicts.

In the EU the member states handle the situation different and also are different affected by it. The states on the external borders are the first destination of many refugees and that are mainly states which already have some problems on their own. The final destination of the most refuges are the wealthier states in central and north Europe. In 2015 about one million new refugees arrived in Europe.[1] That is comparing to around 60 million refugees in the world only a small fraction.[2] Still in many member countries, especially from the central east, south east and east, are protest from the population and politicians against refugees. In one country were different reactions: Germany. Although a majority of the refugees in Europe wanted and went to it. There are different reasons why it is different and also there exist protest against refuges. The question which this essay want to answer is: Which risks and opportunities Germany has because of this huge migration.

To answer this question there will be first a closer look on the numbers of refugees and on the regulations in Germany. After that it will go more into detail with the list of risks and opportunities. In the end there will be also a part about the European Union and how the refugee crisis affect the institution and how that has an influence on Germany. The text will show that there are no real arguments against refugees, that Germany is in the best condition for this huge number of migration and that Germany can benefits a lot from this situation. But also Germany has to change how the refugees are coming into country because it destabilize the European Union.

Still this essay will not handle with conspiracy theories and populistic arguments. There will no place for racism and islamophobia.


2.    The story about the numbers

There were different speculation how many people try to immigrate in Germany in 2015. Mostly right-wing politicians try to get influence and outdo each other with higher and higher numbers. In the end around 1.1 million refugees get registered in the German ESAY-System. This System is for the first registration of refugees and the distribution of them to the federal states. That is lower than many expected. But only 442 000 people asked for asylum in Germany. The reasons why this number is so much under the ESAY-registration are different. It came to double or false registration, some has other final destinations and also few went back to their home country. From the people in the ESAY-system around two third were from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The half of the asylum applications were same countries (inclusive Eritrea with around 2%). Asylum applications from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea have almost a 100% acceptation. People from Afghanistan around 80%.[3]

The number of asylum applications in 2015 is the highest number ever in Germany. The highest peak before was 1993 with 438 000. The number of application increasing since 2008 and highly increasing since 2013. In 2014 there were 203 000 applications and thus less than half as 2015. The numbers were high in every month of 2015 but increased in the summer and were on the highest point in autumn/winter. In spring there still many asylum applications came from people of the Balkans[4] but the number are decreasing. In November only 9.5 % of all applications were from them. The acceptance of asylum applications from the Balkans is about 1 %. [5]


3.    There is more than the Refugee Convention

Germany asylum policy is not only affected from the Refugee Convention from 1951. It based on the German constitution. In Article 16a the basic right of asylum for politically persecuted is written down. That is the only basic right which is only for foreigners. A person is politically persecuted if the state persecute him*her because of the political conviction, religion or uncontrollable features like gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. General emergencies like poverty, civil wars, natural disasters etc. are not included. For this cases the Refugee Convention come in charge. The basic right of asylum got changed always there were a lot of asylum applications. The first time in 1993 and the second time 2015.[6]

The Refugee Convention of 1951 was formed in the beginning to help the refugees after the Second World War. That is why it has been extended with the 1967 protocol. It is the most important international document for the safety of refugees. It is signed from 147 states inclusive all members of the European Union. It defines who is a refugee, what help he*she gets and what duties he*she has. Every signed state has to act according to the refugee convention.[7]


4.    The Risks

In Germany it is like in the rest of the higher developed countries: the production get more automated, the qualification someone needs for a job growing and labour-intensive production moves to less developed countries. The economy evolved to a system where high education is necessary and where is no place for unskilled workforces. For such a system less educated immigration is a problem. There would be no or less work for them and there would be a conflict with already in Germany living unskilled workers. To solve that problem the state has to invest money in the education of the refugees. First in language courses because the language barrier is the highest factor why someone cannot find a job. On the other hand the numbers are showing that there is not such a problem. The majority of refugees are young and better educated as the average of the German population. A problem with too many new unskilled workers is preventable and at the moment unlikely.[8]

The people which are arriving in Germany having different backgrounds, different stories, different ideas and different culture. What unites them is that they are strangers in a complete new society. To change that there is a magical word called integration. Because if that does not happen or only badly there will be many problems for them and for their new society. It will come to a division between different parts of the population. There will be discrimination and stigmatisation where the minorities have to suffer. Ghettos are upfront where the quality of life and the opportunities are much lesser than in the rest of the society. This is one of the main risks because integration is nothing what happens automatic. Integration is a process and the state has to be the one which are helping. But more important is the civil society and the population. They have to be open for the newcomers and have to offer their helping hands. And the refugees have to accept them and have to work active on their own integration. The majority of refugees in Germany understand the need of integration and want to do it.[9]

In conurbations and cities with good economy there is a housing shortage. Affordable accommodations are rare and the gentrification rise the rents. This has many reasons. One is the aging society and the other that more and more jobs are concentrated in cities. Of course this problem will increasing with the refugees. Because mainly they also want to live where are jobs, schools, universities and shops. [10] This problem is not new and in the moment the huge number of refugees not increase the housing shortage. But it will if there are not enough new construction of accommodations. Another possibility is a better distribution all over Germany but that would be a more difficult task.

There exist a risk where the majority of people not thinking about: the problem with the possible tensions among the population. In Germany the majority of protest against refugees happens where only less foreigners and people with immigrant background living: in East Germany. Same can be seen in Europe. The countries with less foreigners or people with immigrant background are more xenophobic. This leads to the conclusion that this tensions in the population only based on prejudice. Is not so easy to work against prejudice but here the state has to act. There have to be different programs like education programs or meetings between refugees and sceptics.


5.    Opportunities

Germany has a problematic demographic development. Since 1972 more people are dying each year than babies get born. The only group in the population which is growing is the group of the olds. In Germany, like in many other high developed countries, we can´t speak anymore about an age pyramid more like an age mushroom.[11] Till 2050 there will be, if nothing changed, a reduction of the population to around 75 Million. That will change the society enormous. No economic growth, higher load on the social system and underpopulated areas.[12] Also now Germany has too many olds and to less young people. There is a need for workforces everywhere. There is a lack of skilled workers, engineers and doctors. Many refugees, mostly from Syria, are high educated. Around 21% of them have an academic background and 22 % where on the high school and 47% on the secondary school.[13] In 2014 32% of all businesses could not fill all there free apprenticeships.[14] It is more difficult for the businesses to find enough young people. Many of the arriving refugees are under 30 and in the perfect age for apprenticeships.[15] Till 2030 around 6 million workers will retire.[16] In a middle and long term the many young refugees will relive the social system if they get integrate in the German labour market.[17]

Threw the refugees the domestic demand increase. It can be see first in the local economy because the basic needs like food, clothes and similar will be bought near to the accommodations. In a midterm also the German GDP will rise. Experts a expecting 2025 a GDP growth of 0.86 which is only affected by the refugees from 2015.[18] If the German government cutting down other budget because of the refugees the short-term effect of the domestic demand increase will not so big.

The effects of the demographic change can already been seen in East Germany. Many areas are under- or unpopulated. Instructive standing houses, closed schools and shrinking population. All that will also be a problem in the near future in the countryside in Germany. Only the conurbations will increase. Villages and small towns will die out if nothing change.[19] Refugees can be here a solution but it is not so easy. The young people are moving away from this areas mostly because there are no perspectives for them and businesses are moving because there are not enough young people. That all effects the income of the areas there and so the infrastructure. To solve the problem not only refugees have to settle in this areas. With that the state have to invest in the infrastructure, build new higher schools and universities in this areas, have to give businesses incentives that they will move to this areas and gave cheap loans to the people and local economy. But still in the east are the most protest against refugees. There have to be campaigns where they show the locals how they will benefit from the whole process.

The refugees have when they arriving only few material possessions but they carrying a lot with them: their culture. It will be a cultural enrichment for the German society. In 10 to 20 years the best Syrian restaurants outside of Syria will be in Germany. But not only food will enrich the society. The Music will influence local musicians, new kind of sounds will create and the selection of different concerts will increase. In the sector sports the influence of immigration can be seen already today. From the German football team which won the world cup 2014 where six with migration background.[20] Other cultural enrichments are their religion, their philosophy or their literature. Everything which people from Germany normally don´t have a good access. That will create new viewpoints which are important in politics, economy and science.

Of course the investment in the infrastructure and in the education is also good for the local population. There is a need for more than 20 000 new teachers only for the already arrived refugees.[21] In Bavaria, one of the federal states in Germany, more than 100 million euros will invest in the education system for the integration of the refugees under 18. For that around 2000 teachers and psychologist be adjusted. Mainly young teachers which had before not so good chances for a job get employed.[22] In April 2015 the German government decided to make a special budget for investment in the municipalities about 3.5 billion euros. It is manly for investment in the infrastructure and 500 million are especially for infrastructure investment for refugees.[23]


6.    The Influence of Germanys refugee policy on the EU

There are some conspiracy theories about that the German decision to accept the refugees and especially quotes from the German chancellor Angela Merkel increased the numbers of refugees which try to come to Germany. The data is showing us something different. Already in the summer the numbers of refugees were very high and that was before the decisions which mentioned.[24] That does not mean that the German policy has nothing to do with the problems many countries have with the huge numbers of refugees. One of the main problems is that if someone want to ask for asylum in Germany he*she has to be inside of Germany. There is no possibility to ask for it in an embassy or another institution outside of the country. Also Germany has no migration policy. An immigration systems like in Canada or the USA are not existing. That is weak for Germany which was already 2013 the second largest country of immigration in the world after the USA.[25] A green card system for normal immigrants and the possibility to ask for asylum in embassy would help to minimalize the chaos which we saw 2015 in Europe. But here not only Germany has to change his policy, the whole European Union failed in the “refugee crisis”. The refusal of some countries to accept refugees, the rules of Dublin 2 and the failure of a collective refugee policy made a bigger damage than the economic crisis.


7.    The Conclusion

More unskilled workers would be a problem for the German economy because there is no job for them but the majority of refugees which are coming to Germany are good educated. Most important is that there are enough language courses for them so they can overcome the language barrier. The state, the society and the refugees have to work together that there is a successful integration. The state has to build more accommodations in cities to prevent a housing shortage and there have to be programs to provide tensions among the population.

All risks which coming with the huge number of refugees are preventable. For that there have to be active politics on all levels. From the national government to the local institutions. Lots of work and investment is required to solve the whole situation.

The demographic development in Germany is problematic. On the one hand the number of older people increasing and on the other the number of young people are decreasing. It is the perfect timing for the huge number of refugees. They need workforces, have a lack of skilled workers and many unoccupied apprenticeships. Also there are enough areas where are to less people and the economy will not grow without new immigration.

Germany will have many benefits of the refugees if there will be the right policy. There are enough examples where it was similar. Like after the Second World War where more than 12 million displaced people and refugees in Germany were the engine of the economic miracle. In the 60s and 70s thousands of immigrant workers from Greece, Italy and Turkey helped to grow the prosperity in Germany. And of course the reunion from West and East Germany where 40 million “economic refugees” were taken into the society.

The policy of Germany effected some problems in the European Union. They need to allow that people can ask for asylum in Germany outside of the country and need an immigration system for all other immigrates. Mainly the European Union and every member state has to change. The isolationist policy of many states have to change. Not nationalistic, short term thinking should lead the countries. There is a need for a collective policy not only in the case of the refugees. It is also a chance for the European Union. It could become stronger and closer than before. For that it need a rethink and more solidarity. If nothing will change, the project can fail and the EU can break down. That will affect everyone. Not only in Germany or in Europe also in the whole world.

In the end it is important to say that asylum and helping others should never be about benefits. It is our duty to help, it does not matter if we caused the problems or not. Every human has the right to live in peace. No one is illegal. Refugees welcome.

[1] UN zählt 2015 eine Million neue Flüchtlinge in Europa, zeit online, 22.12.2015,

[2] Uli Post, Die Welt steht nicht vor unserer Tür – Migration: Fakten, Chancen und Risiken, Welthungerhilfe, 27.07.15,

[3] Erhebliche Unschärfen bei den Asylzahlen 2015, Pro Asyl, 14.01.16,

[4] The Balkan is here only Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

[5] Hubertus Volmer, Der Puffer ist weg – Flüchtlinge und Asylbewerber: die Zahlen,, 14.01.16,

[6] Politisch Verfolgte genießen Asyl – Asylrecht hat in Deutschland Verfassungsrang, Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, 12.12.2012,

[7] Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention, The UN Refugee Agency,

[8] Benno Müchler, Daniel-Dylan Böhmer, Das sind die neuen Syrer in Deutschland,, 10.09.2015,

[9] Justina A. V. Fischer, Der Flüchtlingsstrom als Chance für Deutschland, Ökonomenstimme, 20.10.2015,

[10] Justina A. V. Fischer, Der Flüchtlingsstrom als Chance für Deutschland, Ökonomenstimme, 20.10.2015,

[11] Sabine Sütterlin, Deutschland – eines der kinderärmsten Länder, Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung, January 2008,

[12] Demografischer Wandel in Deutschland, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung,

[13] Benno Müchler, Daniel-Dylan Böhmer, Das sind die neuen Syrer in Deutschland,, 10.09.2015,

[14] DIHK-Ausbildungsumfrage, Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag,

[15] Benno Müchler, Daniel-Dylan Böhmer, Das sind die neuen Syrer in Deutschland,, 10.09.2015,

[16] Chancen für Flüchtlinge, Chancen für Deutschland, radiobremen, 13.01.2016,

[17] Jan Gänger, „Eine Chance für Deutschland“ Sorgen Flüchtlinge für Wachstumsschub?,, 11.09.2015,

[18] Maria Marquart, Arbeitsmarkt, Wohnungen, Finanzen: Wirtschaftsfaktor Flüchtling – was auf Deutschland zukommt, Spiegel Online, 03.11.2015,

[19] Tobias Dorfer, Demografie in Deutschland

„Dörfer verschwinden“, sü, 28.12.2012,

[20] Deutschland » Kader WM 2014 in Brasilien,,

[21] Maria Fiedler, 20.000 Lehrer für Flüchtlinge benötigt,, 09.10.2015,

[22] Maria Fiedler, 20.000 Lehrer für Flüchtlinge benötigt,, 09.10.2015,

[23] Kommunale Investitionen sollen gefördert werden,,

[24] Hubertus Volmer, Der Puffer ist weg – Flüchtlinge und Asylbewerber: die Zahlen,, 14.01.16,

[25] OECD-Bericht Sie wollen nach Deutschland,, 01.12.214,

Dieser Beitrag wurde unter Deutschland, English, Europa, Kampf gegen den Braunenscheißdreck, Politikwissenschaft, Studium, Wissenschaft abgelegt und mit , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , verschlagwortet. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink.

Eine Antwort zu Germany and the refugees – a love story

  1. Interesting article, but i have some questions.

    50-60% of refugees come from countries where there is no war or dictatorship, how shoud we deal with them ?
    Can Germany really take in all the billions of poor from all over the world ?
    where are the limits to such a politics of open borders ?
    How to deal with the fraction of migrants that have very conservative values or even islamist ideologies ?

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