German emigration has reached the highest level since 1954, according to the federal statistics office. Around 155,300 men and women moved abroad in 2006.
Older Germans are drawn to Spain
Germans are increasingly choosing to move abroad, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden announced on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Of the 155,300 people who emigrated last year, 56 percent were men. The emigrants' average age was 32.
The most popular destination for German men and women was Switzerland, which attracted 18,000, followed by the United States (13,800) and Austria (10,300).
"Finally people are living what has always been demanded," migration expert Thomas Straubhaar of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) told the Associated Press. "That is, higher mobility in favor of better professional opportunities."
Ever more German students study abroad
The figures include students studying abroad for a year or two, a practice that increases every year, a spokeswoman for the statistics office told Reuters news agency.
In search of jobs -- and sun
Indeed, most of those who move away eventually return home, a departure from the past.
"The character of emigration has changed entirely," Straubhaar said. "Today it's only a temporary professional phase."
This was also the case for the 1,900 older Germans, above the age of 50, who chose to leave their home country, Straubhaar told AP. Drawn by lower costs of living and mild weather, this group was most likely to move to Spain, according to the statisticians.
But they, too, were very likely to return to Germany. "One goes home to die," Straubhaar said.
Germany's population was 82.3 million last year, of which slightly more than 7 million were foreigners.