Where would Germany be without all the migrants, who helped build its economy

Sašo Ornik
5 min readJul 26, 2018


How large would German economy be without millions of foreign workers imported in recent decades? We often forget, that German economic miracle was in part built by Turks, Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs, as there was lack of domestic workers, or Germans simply didn’t want to take certain jobs. Germany is no exception, it was similar in the majority of northern and western Europe. This inflow of foreigners continues to this day, despite the heated rhetoric against immigration.

French victory over Croatia at the World Cup finals in Russia lead to an outpouring of messages on social media, that in reality it was Africa, who won. It is true, many French national team players have roots, that can be traced to former French colonies. It wasn’t any different with Belgium, whose team was also very diverse. If one would judge just by the color of the skin of players, one could easily come to the conclusion, majority of French people were black, which of course is not true. Majority is still white, even if there were profound demographic changes, mostly inside larger cities.

Proponents were quick to note, how the French victory at World Cup was just one more proof of usefulness of immigration. Without those players, they reasoned, France would probably not become world champion. Perhaps. It is true, that countries of west and north Europe gained a lot from masses of people from all around the world. Yes, those people brought new problems with them. But, there is no doubt, that Turkish workers helped build Germany and Algerian France. There also is no doubt, the majority had a positive impact.

Romelu Lukaku. Born in Belgium, to Congolese parents, member of team Belgium. I recomend his personal story.

At this point we must ask a different question.

It is clear, it was the economy, that benefited from masses of foreigners, because it needed them. Do you remember the last big refugee/migrant crisis, that came to be, after the German chancelor Angela Merkel made her invitation? Some business people were welcoming their arrival, seeing an opportunity to fight the lack of workforce in an time of ageing society. After serious opposition started to mount, they retreated into silence. If nobody would be giving jobs to those people, they would not come. Looking back at the decades of immigration, we can see, the majority didn’t live on the welfare. They worked. Turks worked. Slovenians worked. Somebody gave them jobs. It was in that somebodies interest, to keep the river of people flowing.

It is important to know that. There are conservative and right wing political forces in Europe, who claim they want to stop immigration, yet it is precisely those forces that are often well connected with the economy. It is then no wonder, immigration never really stops. Let us take a look at Slovenia. It is at the same time, that many people are showing their displeasure, to put it mildly, with a few refugees and migrants, that happen to be muslims, while not noticing at all thousands of workers from the ex Yugoslav republics, coming to take the jobs, Slovenians don’t want to fill. At least not for the pay being offered. Well, surprise, a lot of those workers are muslims as well. By the way, the Slovenians do the same, when they take the road north, to Austria, where the pay is better.

That’s the reason for the divide inside political right. In recent times new populist, nationalistic forces surfaced and they are serious about building border fences, unlike traditional forces, who talked the talk, but didn’t do the walk.

Then there are socialists, communists, liberals, anarchists… They are positive about migrations, but at least socialists should think twice, what they are actually supporting. First, who is the real beneficiary of migrations? The economy, geting the infusion of new, cheap labour, which at the same time lowers the bargaining power of the existing workforce. They don’t need to invest in automatization, they don’t need to raise wages. Second, there is no debate about what the outflow of many young people from poor countries means for them. In soccer, obviously, that Africa is not important, but European countries are. In other fields, that the educated don’t work to better their own countries, but say United Kingdom or Spain. Migration, if connected with quotas for needed profiles, is a repeat of colonial relationship, just that now it is not natural resources, but people, who flow from ex colonies to ex imperial centres. Well, let us not be naive, even natural resources still find their way from ex colonies and it will remain so for some time. Countries like Ghana or Kenya will need decades of economic growth to become powerful enough, not to be exploited anymore.

Migrations are a complex process. They bring benefits and cost. They can’t be completely prevented, yet there must be some limitations. The problem is not easy at all and to behave, like it were, is the wrong path to take. We must find some balance between open borders advocates, who would let the entire undeveloped world into Europe, and then not take the responsibility for the consequences and xenophobes, who now find burkinis distasteful (to which I am opposed as well), hate muslims, but will in time hate Ethiopians, because they are dark skined, after them they will oppose the Greeks, because they are lazy and so on.

The solution might be, I think, creation of entry points, through which all migrants and refugees would go, something similar, like in the past Ellis Island was for the US. Migrations should be regulated, while at the same time there should be a stop for illegal immigration. Western countries, mostly United States, must stop their reckless war adventures, as they wreak havoc on functioning countries, like Libya was. Wouldn’t there be a lower number of refugees from Syria, if some western countries hadn’t meddled in that country? The attitude towards poor countries must change as well, there must be more investment, so the need for emigration among young people decreases. Allthough, one must keep in mind, that most of Sub-saharan Africa is actually growing, yet there are still many, who wish for a better life somewhere else. Massive energy must be put into integration, newcomers must be mixed with the existing population. Ghettos, where people don’t understand the language of the country, they live in, must not be allowed.

In reality, I don’t have the real answer, how to solve this issue, and neither do rulling political elites. I only have proposals, that may help. Only fanatics on both sides are certain in their answers, but they would only make the problems worse. All I know is, we need a middle way. Less hate. More thinking, more balancing between emphaty for poor people, who just want a better life, and interests of the state and people, who allready live there.



Sašo Ornik

Blogger. Trying to improve my English. What better way to do that, than to translate comments from my Slovenian blog or write new ones.