Germany’s foreign-nationals give more than they take, says report

Immigrants contributed €22 billion more to the German welfare system in 2012 than they received in support

Construction site for a refugee centre  in Berlin: A new survey indicates that non-nationals living in Germany are  net contributors  to the country’s welfare system. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Construction site for a refugee centre in Berlin: A new survey indicates that non-nationals living in Germany are net contributors to the country’s welfare system. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

 

Foreign-nationals living in Germany are a boost, not a burden, to the country’s welfare system, according to a new survey.

The 6.6 million people living here without a German passport contributed €22 billion more to the welfare system in 2012 (€3,300 per capita) than they received in support.

The Bertelsmann Foundation study, conducted by the The Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), turns on its head a 2012 survey, in which two-thirds of German nationals saw migrants as a burden on their welfare state.

Given that the survey was based on 2012 data, the contribution of non-Germans today is likely to be even more significant after inward migration reached a 20-year high of 1.23 million last year.

The past decade has seen a 50 per cent spike in foreign-national contributions to Germany’s welfare system.

“The foreigners who live in Germany aren’t a burden for the German social welfare state; quite the contrary,” said Dr Holger Bonin, author of the study. “Germany has been a winner of immigration, and the chances are high that it will continue to benefit from it in future.”

Migrant magnet

A year ago, ahead of free movement in the EU for Bulgarians and Romanians, Bavaria’s state premier called for a clampdown on welfare fraud by EU migrants.

Earlier this month the European Court of Justice ruled, in the case of a jobless Romanian woman denied welfare in Leipzig, that Germany was not obliged to pay benefits to a foreign-national who had not paid into the system.

The ZEW/Bertelsmann survey suggests that, despite many disadvantages migrants experience in the German labour market, they are net contributors to Europe’s largest economy.

The report conceded that many migrants have lower qualifications and earning potential, but said this was evened out by their above average number of children.

As a result, just one in every seven foreign-nationals in Germany belongs to older age cohorts that are welfare net recipients, compared with one in five German nationals.

Foreign-nationals in Germany draw down a higher level of welfare benefits, the study forecast, but this was evened out by significantly lower pension entitlements.

Germany’s rapidly ageing population, the report said, means the importance of immigrants to the German economy will only rise in the coming years.