Berlin (dpa) - fewer and fewer people are fleeing to Germany - and more and more come to work here. This emerges from a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which was presented today in Berlin and Paris.

Accordingly, Germany is still the second most popular immigration country compared to the OECD countries after the USA. According to the study 2018 in Germany, the number of initial applications for asylum fell by 18.3 percent to 162,000 applications. In all 36 member states of the OECD, 1.07 million initial applications were filed last year, 35 percent fewer than in the record years of 2015 and 2016 (1.65 million initial applications each). This is a "very low level," said OECD migration expert Thomas Liebig. However, the OECD expects that there may be another large influx of asylum seekers in the coming years. "We just do not know when".

Overall, after two years of decline, migration in the OECD countries picked up slightly by two percent in 2018. According to the study, 5.3 million people would permanently migrate to OECD countries in 2018. The experts observe that changes in asylum policy in the OECD countries are aimed at speeding up asylum procedures and making better use of reception centers. In the EU, the number of initial applications in 2018 has fallen to 2014 levels. However, the European Commission had reported on Tuesday a significant increase in July this year.

The chances of immigrants finding a job in Germany are very good: At the end of 2018, 70 percent of immigrants in Germany had work for the first time. However, the quality of the jobs is modest, many immigrants are poorly paid and are overqualified. The OECD is also seeing a change in the countries from which migrant workers emigrate.

As a result, fewer and fewer people come to Germany to work from Eastern Europe - Poland, for example, is increasingly developing from the country of origin to the destination country for migrant workers. Instead, people from the Western Balkans are increasingly looking for work in Germany. That was a success of the so-called West Balkan settlement, said Liebig.

From the countries mentioned above Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and northern Macedonia, by 2015 many people had tried to come to Germany by application for asylum. However, most of these applications were rejected. In order to relieve the burden on the authorities, Germany gradually declared countries to be safe countries of origin between 2014 and 2015 - at the end of 2015, however, created a special temporary scheme until the end of 2020, which also opens up the prospect of a visa to low-skilled job seekers from these states. This model could be a role model for other OECD countries, said Liebig.

In addition to the people already working, more and more international students are coming to Germany. In 2017/2018, for the first time, the Federal Republic of France replaced France as the main non-English-speaking destination for international students.

For 2017, with final figures available, experts see family members as the largest group of migrants in the OECD. The number of migrants who have migrated to work in one of the OECD countries for a limited period of time has risen (plus 11 percent). The top destination was Poland.

Press release OECD

OECD International Migration Outlook 2019 (English)

Data from the migration report (English)