Immigration to East Germany: Last chance 2011
Due to population ageing and shrinking Germany – particularly East Germany – experiences a demographic constellation causing remarkable economic and social problems. One option to cope with the demography based challenges is immigration. In a historical part the article firstly illustrates the history of immigration in Germany during the 20th century and concludes that substantial immigration initially occurred in the 1950th in the Western part of Germany when the so called “Gastarbeiter” were attracted to the West German labour market. Regions in East Germany, instead, show a rather low share of immigrants – a result of the GDR immigration policy that permitted only a low level of temporary migration. However, prospects of success to stimulate immigration to East Germany seem to be rather limited. Firstly, since 2000 Germany as a whole faces reducing immigration numbers. Secondly, the low immigration experience and density of foreigners’ networks could torpedo existing immigration potentials. The sole opportunity for improving the migration balance seems to be the immigration from Central Eastern European regions. Spatial proximity might compensate for lacking migration incentives and initiate substantial migration flows towards East Germany. Yet, one should not have to high expectation regarding the dimension of immi-gration from Central Eastern Europe. Large parts of the migratory population already moved to other EU member states that implemented the Freedom of Movement for Workers immediately after 2004. Therefore, it seems to be crucial to stay away from every supplementary regulation that might discourage potential labour market migrants from Central East Europe after May 2011.