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People and Politics Forum 06. 06. 2008

"Why do so many people in affluent countries want to emigrate?"

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More information:

Auf Wiedersehen - Why Germans are emigrating in increasing numbers

An increasing number of Germans are leaving the country to pursue new lives abroad. Figures from the German authorities show that emigration is at a new high, in part inspired by reality TV shows about this very issue. Many try their luck in Scandinavia, such as the family we followed.

Our Question is:

"Why do so many people in affluent countries want to emigrate?"

Roland Bennesch, in Uruguay, writes:

"..I made the move 10 years ago, and never had any regrets. Compared to Germany, you can often lead a better, more relaxed life in faraway countries, and many nations are ahead of us when it comes to friendliness."

A. Hegele, in Brazil, says:

"If young people can improve their professional know-how and income by taking on jobs in a foreign country, then why not?"

Oliver Schneider, in Iceland, tells his own story:

".. In my case there was a mix of incentives: the challenge of the new job, the foreign country itself, the language and of course German bureaucracy. Apart from that, certificates of all kinds are overrated in Germany. A sheet of paper counts more than actual skills - in other countries the opposite is more often the case. There is no reason for German industrial leaders to complain about a lack of skilled people. The lack is rather their willingness to rely on ... a sheet of paper."

Memories from René Junghans, in Brazil:

"I emigrated back in 1972.. Sometimes I'm homesick, and then I use the holidays to fly to Europe with my family. My wife is Brazilian, we have two German-Brazilian sons and our own house. I'm financially better off than I would have been if I had stayed in Germany. The reason I left was "wanderlust" and the urge to get away from my small-town surroundings in Reutlingen. In 1972, I left on a trip to Brazil, and just stayed...When I hear all the complaints about poverty and welfare payments in Germany l wonder why people just submit to evrything and don't try their luck somewhere else. My links to the old country will always remain, but I will remain in Brazil."

Herbert Fuchs, in Finland, says:

"You can easily understand why increasing numbers of mostly young people in affluent countries are packing their cases and saying farewell to their home countries.They are often highly-skilled young people with first-class know-how who despair of finding an adequate workplace ...Lots of young emigrants can see that business entrepreneurs in rich nations have turned into anarcho-capitalists and are fed up with being ripped off. Better to leave today than tomorrow!"

Jörg Rademacher, in South Africa, sees the ironic side:

"I think emigrating has always been a German phenomenon. I emigrated to South Africa 20 years ago because of the weather, as a sort of climate emigré. Lots of Germans came to South Africa roundabout the year 2000. Nowadays, it's mostly people from Britain but Germans are still arriving, not to escape misery of course but as an adventure to enjoy a less tensed-up lifestyle. I have to smile when people say they are moving to other parts of Europe and call that emigrating. It's like moving from the Frisian Islands to Bavaria and calling it a big jump over a cultural divide! I no longer see any difference between the EU and Germany..."

Aeron Paul Soriano, in the Philippines, makes a general comment:

"People from all over.. want to emigrate because they want to give their families a stable and better life.. They also want to emigrate because they want a newer or greener pasture and start a new life."

Gerhard Seeger, also in the Philippines, sees the economic factor:

"Emigration is triggered mostly by economic issues. When businesses employ cheap labor from other countries it's understandable that emigration sets in and migration between countries with high wages is the outcome. Emigrants follow the cash flow."

A point taken up by Lee Davis, in the USA:

"As more and more workers find it difficult to earn a living wage, many try to find a place were the don't have to spend so much on life's basic needs."

In Brazil, Stephan Pabst warns:

"Those who are highly-skilled and have the appropriate talents will do well in most countries. But for the majority the realisation sets in, sooner or later, that the battle for survival is the same everywhere and it's tough trying to maintain the levels people are used to. And you take your own deficits with you. In the end, the quality of life isn't better, just different, even worse if you can't or don't want to adapt to a foreign mentality."

Similar views from Janna Drummer in Argentina:

"Living in a foreign environment is like entering an empty space way above the ground without a safety net that your country offers you, with your family, friends and colleagues. .. We often forget that emotional well-being is just as important as the financial aspect. Overcoming a crisis in a foreign country is possible but it's also difficult, and if you fall by the wayside you realise that safe ground isn't there."

Writing from the United Arab Emirates, Wiltrud Eva Matthes says:

"I also left Germany. Restructuring, people being laid off, rising taxes and a generally pessimistic mood in the country made the decision very easy. German training and other so-called "German virtues" are sought after abroad, so it's understandable why increasing numbers are trying their luck in a foreign country."

Paya Naderi, in Canada, tells of his foreign experience:

"I'm a German-Iranian and earned much more money in China than I did in Germany. I had less expenses and had a much better job perspective. International schools were better, too. In Europe there's a sort of job protectionism that isn't fair."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.