Germany’s Brain Drain: And the Reasons Why?

By February 6, 2007Economy, Labor Unions

The New York Times reports on the rising number of Germans emigrating for economic reasons. Indeed, for the first time since the 1950s, more Germans left the country in 2005 than returned. And who’s abandoning the Heimat?

They are doctors, engineers, architects and scientists — just the sort of highly educated professionals that Germany needs to compete with economic up-and-comers like China and India.

“It’s not a problem of numbers as much as brain drain,” said Reiner Klingholz, the director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. “What we desperately need in the near future are talented and qualified people to replace those who will retire in 15 to 20 years.”

And why do they go?

Those who leave cite chronic unemployment, a rigid labor market, stifling bureaucracy, high taxes and the plodding economy, which, though better recently, still lags behind that of the United States.

Those who advocate adopting similar, social-democratic policies in the United States — say, higher taxes, bigger government or “card check” legislation making the labor market more rigid — would do well to consider Germany’s experience.

P.S. Demographically speaking, Germany can ill afford to lose so many productive members of its society.