NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 10, 2008

Germany, like much of Europe, is struggling to integrate its immigrants, especially Muslims, who constitute roughly 25 percent of the immigrant population, says the Wall Street Journal.

One of the main reasons foreigners find themselves more often in trouble is to a large extent the result of misguided welfare policies, explains the Journal:

  • Germany's strict labor rules protect "insiders" -- that is, those who already have jobs.
  • Generous unemployment benefits for "outsiders" have fostered a dependency culture particularly entrenched among foreigners.
  • More than 40 percent of foreigners have no occupational training.
  • The unemployment rate among non-citizens in Germany is, at 18.6 percent; twice as high as the national average.

Yet many still advocate policies that would make it even harder for unskilled immigrants to find jobs, says the Journal:

  • Many Social Democrats favor a nationwide minimum wage, which currently applies only in some sectors.
  • A recently adopted €9.80 ($14.40) minimum wage for postal workers has already led to massive layoffs in the private mail delivery sector.
  • Setting similar standards across the country would make getting out of the welfare trap all the more difficult.

At the same time, Germans have long deluded themselves that the Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, would one day return to their homelands -- including German-born second and third generations of "foreigners," says the Journal.  But what reality is needed is education.  Immigrant parents need to examine why so many of their sons turn bad.  In addition, government policies must do their part to facilitate integration.  It won't be the worst outcome of the current debate about foreign criminals if Berlin recognizes that social mobility and the end of rampant welfarism, is key to successful integration.

Source: Editorial, "Gastarbeiter and Crime," Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2008.

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