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Germany: Improving Migration Management

Well-managed migration involves creating benefits for our country that do not come at the expense of the local population or countries of origin. Based on empirical research, the Bertelsmann Stiftung develops reform proposals for the effective and fair management of all forms of migration.

Migration holds immense potential. For example, well-managed migration enriches our country by creating jobs, sparking innovation, generating tax revenue and enabling cultural exchange. In addition ‒ in the sense of the so-called triple win ‒ it allows migrants to climb the social ladder and improve their living standard. Origin countries also benefit thanks to the transfer of money, knowledge and social resources. Migration is thus not a zero-sum game. Effective migration management additionally helps Germany meet its responsibility to people in need of protection, enabling such individuals to live lives free of persecution and war.

However, migration also holds risks. These include the exploitation of migrants, which also works to the detriment of native-born workers; the possibility of anti-foreigner propaganda campaigns and fear-mongering by right-wing populists; and so-called brain drain in countries of origin. In order to develop migration’s positive potential and minimize its risks, migration policy must be proactive, effective and fair. Thus, good migration management is also a fundamental precondition for an open society that welcomes migrants, accepts diversity and promotes participation.

Working with national and international partners, the Bertelsmann Stiftung draws on empirical insights to develop reform proposals for the effective and fair management of migration. In this process, migration is examined holistically, and encompasses all forms of entry, including employment-based or skilled-worker migration, education-related migration, family reunification and humanitarian migration.

Monitor migration movements to and from Germany

Migration figures form the basis for well-informed policy decisions. In order to make a contribution to this, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has published a factsheet for the years 2017 and 2018 (in German) on the immigration of skilled workers. The factsheets will be developed into a more comprehensive migration monitoring system. In addition, we have published a study (in German) which calculates what Germany's annual immigration needs are in order to meet the economy's demand for labour. These calculations will be updated in due course.

Developing concepts for forward-looking migration management

Germany must be an attractive destination country for skilled workers, who help us to deal with labor market shortages and thus ameliorate the adverse effects of demographic change. In this way, immigration complements domestic strategies seeking to improve the employment of the local population. To this end, we have published an edited volume (in German) that explores skilled-labor migration in the context of a new Skilled Immigration Act from a variety of perspectives. A policy brief summarizes the main findings. The Bertelsmann Stiftung will accompany the implementation of the new Skilled Immigration Act and examine its impact with events and publications. We will also publish a study on innovative migrant entrepreneurs.

Migration Lunch Time: A discussion format

We have established the discussion format Migration Lunch Time to discuss different aspects of migration with stakeholders in Berlin. A selection of past Migration Lunch Times can be found here (in German):

How attractive is Germany for skilled workers?

In 2018, the influx of skilled workers accounted for only seven percent of the total influx from non-European countries to Germany. Together with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Bertelsmann Stiftung has developed international comparative indicators to measure the attractiveness of skilled worker immigration and identify areas for action to make Germany more attractive to international skilled workers. The OECD indicators of talent attractiveness were presented to the public in May 2019 at an event in Berlin. A policy brief (in German) discusses the results of the OECD indicators of talent attractiveness specifically for Germany – also in light of the implementation of the new German Skilled Immigration Act. The OECD indicators of attractiveness will be updated and further developed.

Disentangling mixed migration

Effective and fair migration management also means that so-called mixed migrations are disentangled and that, for example, economic migrants and refugees do not have to use the same (irregular) migration routes and rely on human smugglers. The Bertelsmann Stiftung has published a study on how to better manage mixed migrations.

EU internal migration remains important

The German labour market benefits highly from the mobility of EU nationals. This demand will remain unchanged in the future although the migration numbers will most probably go down on the long term because of the similar demographic population structure in most EU countries. In order to better display and analyse this situation, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has started an explorative Big Date project called “Migration Forecast EU”: It aims to see whether a one year forecast of EU migration to Germany on basis of digital data is possible and to develop a tool to do so. For this, a group of interdisciplinary experts will use data from both the internet and conventional sources. We will publish any findings here during the project run time from 2020 to 2024.

Fact sheet "Skilled worker migration to Germany from third countries 2017"

Publication: Skilled worker migration to Germany from third countries 2017

Projects