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Migration pays off for Germany

November 27, 2014

A fresh study by a leading German economic think tank has shown that foreigners living in Germany are no financial burden on the nation's welfare system, sharply contradicting popular belief.

Pakistani scientist in a German lab in Jena
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Schackow

A survey released by the Mannheim-based Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) Thursday says foreigners living in Germany contribute a net profit to the country's welfare system.

The study - compiled on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation - adds that Germany's 6.6 million foreigners, defined as people not holding a German passport, account for a social welfare fund surplus of 22 billion euros ($27.4 billion) yearly, with every individual in that group contributing an average 3,000 euros more in taxes and premiums than they get in terms of state support.

The findings are in stark contrast to popular belief, with roughly two two-thirds of native Germans insisting that migration poses a huge burden on the welfare state.

Foreigners a budget factor

The ZEW survey adds that back in 2004, each foreigner already contributed an average 2,000 euros to the social systems network, while ensuing improvements are attributed to favorable developments on the domestic labor market.

The study's author, Holger Bonin, says it's no secret, though, that highly qualified people contribute more than people with low or no skills.

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Bertelsmann Foundation chief Jörg Dräger argues foreigners' contribution to the welfare system could increase through a better education and qualification policy. But he said German is not yet attractive enough to lure enough foreign skilled workers from countries outside the European Union.

"A good education policy is the best integration policy," he said. "The global stream of talent is still passing us by."

hg/cjc (epd, KNA)