The hopes that, faced with a declining population, increased immigration will solve the economic and labour market problems may prove to be deceptive, says Professor Herwig Birg, population scientist at the university of Bielefeld and President of the German Demography Society. This month Birg will be heard as an expert on the Immigration Law by the Interior Committee of the Federal Parliament.
DIE WELT: According to predictions, the German population will shrink from 82 million currently to 68 million in 2050. Can immigrants at least partially fill the gaps in the labour market?
Herwig Birg: It's not that simple. First of all, immigration has socio-political effects. For example, in a crisis, a company can reduce its economic problems by letting go an immigrant who had been hired initially. But for society that's where the problems begin. In the end everyone is unhappy, the locals and the immigrants. Serious studies show that immigrants already cost the state more than they bring in to our social systems in receipts. These self-evident considerations even the Süssmuth Commission passed over.
DIE WELT: The immigration plans of the government and the Union [Merkel's party] the talk is of strengthened integration and efforts to gain qualifications. Can social conflicts be solved that early?
Birg: I hear the message, but I have no belief. When we speak of integration, we always think of a "German" majority society in which a minority is to be integrated. But exactly the reverse is happening. By 2010, in the under-40s in the major cities, the majority ratio of Germans to immigrants had tipped. Integration then means: How do I as a German integrate into a new majority society of immigrants? There's nothing about that in the immigration studies.