Talent Abroad: A Review of German Emigrants

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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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Potential of German emigrants for the labour market

This chapter examines the potential that German emigrants in OECD countries represent for the labour supply in Germany. It considers the educational composition of the German diaspora, identifies the number of active German emigrants across destination countries, specifies their occupations with a focus on certain shortage occupations, and draws on a variety of indicators to characterise their career prospects. It emerges that German emigrants offer a large skill pool at both the high- and the mediumskill level, and indeed are more likely than their counterparts in Germany to work in high-skill occupations. Substantial numbers of German-born health professionals, engineers and technicians are present in some OECD countries.

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