The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life

The New Germany: Within only 12 months, over 1 million people moved to Germany. How will they integrate?

The New Germany: Within only 12 months, over 1 million people moved to Germany. How will they integrate?


Part 18: The Refugee Bill

Matthias Lücke, 55, is a professor at the Institute for the World Economy in Kiel.

Mr. Lücke, what is this all going to cost?

The figure for this year is €25.7 billion. It's a kind of price tag. That's the amount Germany will have to come up with in 2016 if the number of refugees coming to the country continues as it is -- including costs for housing, language courses, social services and integration.

Matthias Lücke, an economist at the Institute for the World Economy in Kiel, has computed all the costs, conducting a simulation that calculates a price tag with many unpredictable variables. Among Lücke's areas of research are issues like international labor migration and globalization and income distribution. He has a fundamental interest in what happens when migrants come to Germany. Do they help the country or do they harm it?

Germans are obsessed with numbers and statistics, and that is becoming apparent once again in the refugee crisis. They want to know costs, quotas and upper limits. They want to know what to expect, and numbers provide the illusion that the situation is somehow under control. In fact, her refusal to name these figures is one of the reasons Chancellor Angela Merkel is having so much trouble right now.

But Lücke's answer to the question of what the Germans and their generosity is going to cost -- in terms of its overall macroeconomic impact -- is €25.7 billion, for this year alone. For the year 2022, Lücke has even calculated a sum of €55 billion. Those are big numbers, and none of Germany's other major economic institutes has cited larger figures. University of Freiburg Economics Professor Bernd Raffelhüschen calculates a figure of €17 billion, Munich's IFO Institute puts costs (for 2015) at €21 billion and the Mannheim-based ZEW estimates €30 billion.

Lücke's calculations are based on a number of assumptions. For example, his institute forecasts the arrival of 1.4 million refugees in 2016, 400,000 more than in 2015 -- a figure that includes family dependents getting reunited in Germany. In 2017, 1.2 million people would arrive, with the number in Lücke's scenario dropping to a million a year from 2018 to 2020 and then remaining constant.

Lücke says that it costs around €13,000 a year to provide for a single refugee, a figure that includes not only monetary benefits, but also administrative costs for BAMF, the costs of German language courses, as well as the administrative expenses of the municipalities and states.

Decisive in these calculations is the percentage of people who remain in Germany. Around 30 percent of refugees tend to return to their home country within the first three years. Around 20 percent are bestowed with the German legal status of "tolerated," meaning that they do not qualify for asylum but will also not be deported from Germany. Of the original refugees, about 68 percent continue to receive government welfare payments after the first two years, with that figure shrinking to 33.5 percent after five years and down to 17.5 percent after 10 years.

Based on these factors, Lücke predicts costs of €37.4 billion in 2017 and the aforementioned €55 billion for 2022. That would be just under 2 percent of current GDP. The €25.7 billion for this year is equal to 0.85 percent of GDP. Lücke considers that figure to be "manageable," measured against what Germany was able to handle during the reunification of West and East Germany. Germany's more prosperous states have paid more than €2 trillion in transfer payments to the states that formerly belonged to East Germany since reunification in 1990.

Discuss this issue with other readers!
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spiegelerin 02/21/2016
1. HOW do you integrate them?
I just saw a photo of Africans squatting on a boat waiting to come over and another load of them waiting in Libya. (Kaddafi said, watch what happens when they just hop over to Europe.) They are going to take an integration course and live well in hyper independent Germany? I don't think so. They are adults with different norms. When it comes to women, when it comes to how to cure AIDS (sleeping with virgins) when it comes to noise in the streets...the cultures will not harmoniously merge and European culture will have to deal with becoming less woman friendly, louder and so on...I don't see this happening at all well, but apparently "mixed" societies like in France and Belgium work 'well enough." But more are coming and I don't see harmony, at least not for people with European norms. Will this one get published? It's MY opinion, not that of SPON.
artvent 02/21/2016
2. Muslim Refugees
I'm sorry for these people, but you must realize they will live in their own ghettos and because of their religion will never assimilate - they will not contribute to your society because they are mostly uneducated and they will not respect their host nation. Just look at France if you want to see the problem. Most of all I feel sorry for the German people and what will happen to Germany in the years to come after this invasion. You will lose your identity.
bartelbe 02/21/2016
3. it won't work
You want to know what integration looks like? Integration is mixed families, it is muslim girls dating, sleeping with, marrying and having families with German men. That isn't going to happen, because if a muslim girl amoung these "refugees" decided to date a German man she would be dishonouring her family and would be punish. Let that sink in, your new arrivals reguard you with such contempt that if one of their female relatives dated one of your young men, it would be seen as a form of dishonour. If it was the other way round you would condemn that attitude as racist, but no doubt it will be swept under the carpet just like the events in Cologne. Sex and relationships reveals the truth about how people feel. Your new arrivals are not interested in integration, and they do not respect your culture. That is the truth and no amount of PC censorship will change that.
nsmith 02/22/2016
4. Integration Doesn't Happen Overnight...
Germany is going to find out that Integration is not as easy as "Wir Schaffen Das!" The United States of America was built on that same principle over 300 years ago, and we're still having problems with it.
spiegelerin 02/24/2016
5. The next task is to integrate them...
Yes, one integration course and they will learn European values of not grabbing women, of not thinking that women alone have no honor...One integration course and they won't be the desperate people who don't respect barriers, who don't jump trains. No, if You don't give them money and take care of their needs, they are going to get angry. Just take care of them, at any cost.
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