BYE BYE DEUTSCHLAND: More and More Leave Germany Behind (Julia Bonstein, Alexander Jung, Sebastian Matthes and Irina Repke, 11/10/06, Der Spiegel)
Faced with poor job prospects, high taxes and an intrusive bureaucracy, more and more Germans are choosing to emigrate. Most of those who leave, though, are highly qualified — which could mean devastating economic consequences.
They are fed up, truly fed up. Fed up with the constant bickering over the costs of wage benefits, social reforms, elimination of subsidies, store closing hours and all the other symbols of a country stuck in bureaucratic and legislative gridlock.
They are tired of living in country where landing a job is like playing the lottery, a country where not even half of citizens live from gainful employment and a country in which even academics in their mid-40s are already considered problem cases when it comes to job placement. In other words, they are fed up with living in a country where all opportunities already seem to be taken: opportunities to succeed in one’s career, to own property and to achieve prosperity. […]
Almost everyone in Germany these days knows people like Seifert or Naumann — people who have decided to make a fresh start in the middle of their lives. Saying goodbye is difficult for almost anyone, but at some point the frustrations and the yearning for a new future become too overwhelming to ignore. Rarely have so many Germans decided to leave it all behind — their houses and properties, parents and aunts, friends and co-workers. According to the German Federal Office of Statistics, 144,815 Germans left the country last year, a jump of almost 25 percent over 2002. At the same time, fewer and fewer Germans are returning from abroad. The most recent figure is 128,052. For the first time in a generation, more Germans are emigrating than returning. And these are only the official figures.
There are probably just as many who move away without bothering to notify officials in their local municipalities. And those who go are no longer only social dropouts, those seeking a tax haven or celebrities. Nowadays doctors are moving to Norway, engineers to the United States and agricultural experts to New Zealand. Germany is becoming a net exporter of people.
Demographic projections typically fail to recognize that as these places tank their young will leave as fast as they can.