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EU Enlargement under Continued Mobility Restrictions: Consequences for the German Labor Market


  • Brenke, Karl
  • Yuksel, Mutlu
  • Zimmermann, Klaus F


The numbers of migrants from the accessions countries have clearly increased since the enlargement of the EU in 2004. Following enlargement, the net inflow of EU8 immigrants has become 2.5 times larger than the four-year period before enlargement. Poles constitute the largest immigrant group among the EU8 immigrants: since enlargement, 63% of all immigrants and 71% of EU8 immigrants are from Poland. This chapter presents new evidence on the impact of immigrant flow from EU8 countries on the German labor market since EU enlargement. Unlike other EU countries, Germany has not immediately opened up its labor market for immigrants from the new member states. Nevertheless, our analysis documents a substantial inflow and suggests that the composition of EU8 immigrants has changed since EU enlargement. The majority of the new EU8 immigrants are male and young, and they are less educated compared to previous immigrant groups. We also find that recent EU8 immigrants are more likely to be self-employed than employed as a wage earner. Furthermore, these recent EU8 immigrants earn less conditional on being employed or self-employed. Our findings suggest that these recent EU8 immigrants are more likely to compete with immigrants from outside of Europe for low-skilled jobs instead of competing with German natives. While Germany needs high-skilled immigrants, our analysis suggests that the new EU8 immigrants only replace non-EU immigrants in low-skilled jobs. These results underline the importance of more open immigration policies targeting high-skilled immigrants. The current policy not only cannot attract the required high-skilled workforce, but also cannot avoid the attraction of low-skilled immigrants, and is a complete failure.

Suggested Citation

  • Brenke, Karl & Yuksel, Mutlu & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 2009. "EU Enlargement under Continued Mobility Restrictions: Consequences for the German Labor Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 7274, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7274

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kahanec, Martin & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2008. "Migration in an Enlarged EU: A Challenging Solution?," IZA Discussion Papers 3913, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Karl Brenke & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2007. "Zuwanderungen aus Mittel- und Osteuropa trotz Arbeitsmarktbarrieren deutlich gestiegen," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 74(44), pages 645-653.
    3. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Pellizzari, Michele, 2009. "Welfare migration in Europe," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 353-363, August.
    4. Blanchflower, David G. & Lawton, Helen, 2008. "The Impact of the Recent Expansion of the EU on the UK Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 3695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2008. "Scale, diversity, and determinants of labour migration in Europe," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 428-452, Autumn.
    6. Bonin, Holger & Eichhorst, Werner & Florman, Christer & Hansen, Mette Okkels & Skiöld, Lena & Stuhler, Jan & Tatsiramos, Konstantinos & Thomasen, Henrik & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2008. "Report No. 19: Geographic Mobility in the European Union: Optimising its Economic and Social Benefits," IZA Research Reports 19, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Pellizzari, Michele, 2006. "Welfare Migration in Europe and the Cost of a Harmonised Social Assistance," IZA Discussion Papers 2094, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2014. "Circular migration," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-1, May.
    2. Ingmar Rövekamp, 2014. "Vergleich von prognostizierter und tatsächlicher Migration nach Deutschland nach der EU-Osterweiterung," ifo Dresden berichtet, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 21(06), pages 20-26, December.
    3. Martin Kahanec & Mariola Pytliková, 2017. "The economic impact of east–west migration on the European Union," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 407-434, August.
    4. Benjamin Elsner, 2013. "Does emigration benefit the stayers? Evidence from EU enlargement," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 531-553, April.
    5. Mari Kangasniemi & Merja Kauhanen, 2013. "Characteristics and labour market performance of the new member state (NMS12) immigrants in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2013002, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
    6. Kahanec, Martin, 2012. "Report No. 49: Skilled Labor Flows: Lessons from the European Union," IZA Research Reports 49, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Schäfer, Holger, 2011. "Migrations- und Arbeitsmarktwirkungen der Arbeitnehmerfreizügigkeit," IW-Trends – Vierteljahresschrift zur empirischen Wirtschaftsforschung, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln (IW) / Cologne Institute for Economic Research, vol. 38(2), pages 3-18.
    8. Elsner, Benjamin & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2013. "10 Years After: EU Enlargement, Closed Borders, and Migration to Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 7130, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Biavaschi, Costanza & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2013. "Costs and Benefits of Labour Mobility between the EU and the Eastern Partnership Countries: Country Study on Germany," IZA Policy Papers 72, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Kahanec, Martin & Zaiceva, Anzelika & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2009. "Lessons from Migration after EU Enlargement," IZA Discussion Papers 4230, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    employment; EU enlargement; international migration; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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