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Talent Abroad: A Review of German Emigrants

image of Talent Abroad: A Review of German Emigrants

More than three million individuals who were born in Germany lived in another OECD country in 2010/11. To assess the potential that this group represents for the German labour market, this review establishes the distribution of German emigrants over OECD countries, as well as their age, sex, and educational attainment. Shifts in the German diaspora towards European destination countries and higher educational attainment are documented. The largest German diaspora still resides in the United States, but the diaspora in Switzerland and Spain has grown particularly quickly. International students from Germany have even come to represent the largest group of international students from any OECD country. While German emigrants experience less favourable labour market outcomes than their peers in Germany, the emigrants work disproportionately often in high-skill occupations. Survey evidence suggests that many Germans in Germany consider emigration and that many German emigrants are open to return. Those who have returned in recent years, however, appear to have a lower educational attainment than those leaving.

 

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Emigration from and return to Germany: Patterns and motivations

Based on internationally comparable survey data, this chapter explores the motives and determinants for German-born individuals to move abroad or return from abroad. While 15% of the native-born population in Germany indicate a preference to move abroad, few actually realise those intentions. Career prospects and family reasons appear to drive the decisions of many who do emigrate. The self-reported well-being of German emigrants improves following their emigration, but remains on average below the well-being of those who stay in the country. While many consider returning, fewer German citizens have returned than have left in recent years. The chapter provides estimates suggesting that the composition of the two groups differs: those who return are less likely to be highly educated and to be active on the labour market prior to moving than those who leave.

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