Germany’s Labor Market Should Study the Refugee Wave of an Earlier Age

German labor market can learn lessons from the arrival of eastern-European expellees after WWII

German refugees from Eastern Europe in spring of 1945.

Photographer: Getty Images

It’s pretty early to be able to say how the arrival of more than 1 million migrants and asylum-seekers from Syria and other war-torn states over the past eighteen months will affect Germany. It helps however that this isn’t the first time such a thing has happened.

After World War II, some 8 million refugees from German-speaking regions in eastern Europe arrived in what became West Germany, forming part of one of the largest migration movements in human history. New findings by Sebastian Braun at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Henning Weber, a research economist at the Bundesbank, show that the main element that helped to integrate those people into the workforce was time.

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