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The Economic Performance of Germany's East European Immigrants


  • Schmidt, Christoph M


Germany has experienced a substantial influx of German immigrants from Eastern Europe after World War II and expects several million more as a consequence of the demise of socialism. This paper analyses the economic performance of ethnic German migrants to West Germany in comparison with native born West Germans. Ethnic German immigrants from Eastern Europe display lower levels of education, lower rates of self-employment and higher unemployment rates than natives and immigrants from East Germany. Similar to foreign guest-workers, German immigrants are more likely to work in blue collar jobs; they do, however, eventually reach earnings parity with native Germans. This study therefore demonstrates, in contrast to analyses of the economic performance of guest-workers, that despite substantial persistence in economic stature, the German economy does not exclude immigrants from economic prosperity.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmidt, Christoph M, 1994. "The Economic Performance of Germany's East European Immigrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 963, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:963

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Uzan, Marc, 1992. "The Marshall Plan: Economic Effects and Implications for Eastern Europe and the Former USSR," CEPR Discussion Papers 638, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Fernandez, Raquel & Glazer, Jacob, 1991. "Striking for a Bargain between Two Completely Informed Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 240-252, March.
    3. Anat R. Admati & Motty Perry, 1987. "Strategic Delay in Bargaining," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 345-364.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bauer, Thomas & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1997. "Unemployment and wages of ethnic Germans," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 361-377.
    2. Falck Oliver & Heblich Stephan & Link Susanne, 2012. "Forced Migration and the Effects of an Integration Policy in Post-WWII Germany," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-29, May.
    3. Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan & Link, Susanne, 2011. "The Evils of Forced Migration: Do Integration Policies Alleviate Migrants' Economic Situations?," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2011-14, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    4. Schmidt, Christoph M., 1997. "Immigrant performance in Germany: Labor earnings of ethnic German migrants and foreign guest-workers," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 379-397.
    5. Bauer, Thomas K. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1999. "Occupational Mobility of Ethnic Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 58, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Michael Fertig & Stefanie Schurer, 2007. "Earnings Assimilation of Immigrants in Germany: The Importance of Heterogeneity and Attrition Bias," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 30, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

    More about this item


    Assimilation; Expellees; Germany; Migration; Refugees; Segmented Labour Markets;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers


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