Germany second most popular OECD country for migrants

Germany second most popular OECD country for migrants

Fewer refugees are coming to Germany, but more and more people want to work or study here: so much so that Germany is now one of the most popular migration destination countries in the world. This is clear from a new OECD study, presented in Berlin this week.

1,5 million people immigrated to Germany in 2017

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) reported this week that Germany is the second most popular OECD destination for migrants worldwide, after the United States.

For the second year in a row, the number of arrivals to Germany decreased significantly in 2017. Approximately 1,55 million people immigrated to the federal republic (including temporary stays), and around 1,13 million emigrated, often to neighbouring countries. This results in a net migration of 416.000 people, down 84.000 compared to 2016.

Most immigrants in Germany now come from Romania: 230.000 came in 2017, meaning the southeastern European country overtook Poland as the most common country of origin. Bulgaria took third place, just ahead of Syria. 

Migrants come primarily to work and study

While migration to OECD countries rose marginally overall, the study highlighted a substantial drop in humanitarian migration and a concomitant rise in people applying for residence permits permitting them to work or study. According to the report, this refutes the widely-held assumption that the majority of migrants in Germany and OECD countries are refugees. 

Accordingly, the number of applications for asylum in the 36 OECD countries (which includes Germany, Japan, the UK and the US), fell 34 percent to 1,09 million in 2018. In Germany the number of new applications dropped by 18 percent to around 162.000. Of the 179.000 decisions taken in 2018, 42,4 percent were positive. 

Overall, of the 860.000 new immigrants who arrived in Germany in 2017, 48 percent benefit from free mobility (EU citizens), 7,2 percent are labour migrants, 13,4 percent family members (including accompanying family), and 30,7 percent humanitarian migrants.

Record high employment rate of migrants in Germany

Supporting this idea that most migrants come to Germany to study or work was the report’s finding that the employment rate of migrants in Germany currently stands at its highest-ever level: by the end of 2018, 70 percent of immigrants in Germany were working. However, the study also noted that many took on poor-quality work for which they are overqualified and receive meagre salaries.

A further finding of the report was that more and more internationals are coming to study in Germany. For the 2017 / 2018 academic year, the federal republic overtook France as the most popular non-English-speaking destination for international students for the first time.  

You can read the full report on the OECD website.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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