(OPINION) Immigrants to the Rescue

Germany faces a major crisis.

The German birth rate is considerably below what’s needed to replace the population. German seniors, meanwhile, are living longer and drawing more on state resources for their pensions and health care.

There are basically two ways out of this demographic crisis. First of all, Germany could boost its birth rate.

The German state provides generous family leave and child-care policies—not to mention the famous Kindergelt, the direct monthly payments of child benefits—and the fertility rate has indeed edged up over the years from 1.24 children per woman in 1994 to 1.57 today. But the trend in industrialized countries suggests that it will be difficult to push the rate much higher. The closest to the replacement rate of 2.1 children that any EU country gets is France at 1.88.

The second way out of Germany’s crisis would be through immigration. The country could throw open its doors to people from all over the world to take unwanted and unfilled jobs, pay taxes, and support the increasingly aging population.

That is exactly what Germany did. The government of Angela Merkel, in 2015 and 2016, accepted over a million refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Germany now has the fifth largest population of refugees in the world (after Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, and Uganda).

This headline-grabbing decision, five years later, has been a remarkable success. The million refugees have prospered, reports the Center for Global Development.

John Feffer, Foreign Policy Institute, May 5, 2021
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