27.6% of Bulgarians Living in Germany are on Welfare

According to what I like to call the Magic Pixie Dust™ theory of mass immigration, Germany's booming economy is generating so many jobs that companies are searching desperately for qualified workers.* Therefore we should allow in large numbers of foreign migrants who are not refugees but simply looking for a better life. What could be simpler? Win-win! Anyone who disagrees must be a crytpo-fascist or worse.

So, let's see how this is working out. Since 2014 Bulgarians have been allowed to move to Germany and compete on an equal footing in the German job market. As it happens, I know a number of Bulgarians living in Germany who are hard-working, highly intelligent people with excellent language and job skills. But here's a surprising twist: it turns out that like all societies, Bulgaria has different social classes! According to this report (g) from the head of the Agency for Work, which administers welfare in Germany, 27.6% of the 203,000 Bulgarians in Germany are receiving subsistence welfare, and the proportion of unemployed Bulgarians is increasing.

Now that number doesn't paint the full picture, since some Bulgarians on welfare may have part-time employment, and not all Bulgarians are eligible for welfare. But still, this means a large number of recent Bulgarian immigrants are not finding jobs, even in booming Germany. The head of the agency lists the reasons: they have no language skills and left school before their education was complete. As anyone with access to Google knows, many of the people in this last category are Roma. He advises that local government will need lots of assistance in helping these people learn German, finish their educations, learn some kind of job skill, and fit into the job market. This is apparently Germany's responsibility. This assumes, of course, that the people currently receiving welfare actually want to do these things. I'm sure most of them do, but I'm equally sure many of them don't.

Which raises a few questions: Why should Germany spend millions of Euros providing social welfare, social services, and remedial education to citizens of another EU member state? Is the transfer of tens of thousands of unemployable welfare cases from one EU country to another what the framers of the EU had in mind when they created the policy of free movement? Is this state of affairs likely to increase trust in EU policy?

* Whenever you read articles about business who are desperate to find new workers, it's always useful to ask: 'have they tried increasing wages?' and 'are they just trying to get their hands on immigrants who will accept lower wages'?

2 thoughts on “27.6% of Bulgarians Living in Germany are on Welfare

  1. I dare say your blog used to be a bit more varied before you sank your fangs into immigration. But I can see your point. I admit that our mainstream media seem to be fooling themselves (and their readers) about immigration. Part of it sounds like political education in the GDR. Needless to say that it’s just a desperate attempt at providing a counterweight against the xenophobic resentment we currently see revived in large parts of the population, especially in the East. There are lots of people out there who have never really shed totalitarian ideas and many who are more or less openly flirting with Nazi ideology, and always have been. They don’t look it, they seem to be nice parents and grandparents, just a bit narrow-minded, if you will, until you unleash them. They were unleashed by Pegida, and there we are. What the media are trying to do is educate young people so they won’t fall for those die-hard simpletons. I’m not in a position to judge whether that’s bound to be successful. Probably not for long. It’s a short-term approach.

    Now, before we embark on a civil war between ‘Asylbefürwortern’ and ‘Asylgegnern’, let’s try and take a pragmatic stand. Of course it’s hard to face all those changes, and it’s perfectly normal to be anxious about society and your own place in it when there are so many people coming in from war areas (many of them uprooted or traumatised) or just for economic benefit — contenders for the relative safety and wealth we enjoy, in plain terms. It’s equally well understood that it’s not those most in need of help who manage to get here but those who are both desperate and strong enough (which may imply, ruthless enough). All that is characteristic of migration, and there are moments in history when migration occurs and seems to be inevitable. The US, if I may say so, seems to have been formed by such migration. Would you prefer it had never happened?

    I think we may like it or not, and we may try to steer the process, but there’s probably no stopping it at this moment. We’ll just have to face it and make the best of it. I also think once you’ve got your head round that idea, your priorities are bound to shift from ideology to real people. Which is exactly what we need, in my opinion. You may then say, I like this immigrant person but not that one, just the way you like or dislike other people, no matter where they came from. There are lots of ‘normal’, educated Germans who feel like that, people who offer help when they can but admit that they can’t always be helpful, it’s just that you don’t hear a lot about them because they’re not in the media. Which confirms your point that the media should paint a less black-and-white picture.

    In the meantime, it would be nice to read about Denglish or German humour again.


  2. @Daniel: I don’t think peoples’ private opinions about immigrants or the Nazi era is an important public-policy problem. One aspect of a totalitarian system is precisely that it occupies itself with its subjects’ private opinions and tries to force them into conformity. The only thing that the government should be concerned about is violence and the potential for violence. So Pegida, etc. doesn’t bother me. Attacks on refugees and hostels do.

    The reason I post a lot about immigration is precisely to counter the more GDR-like press reports, since many other people don’t. But frankly, news coverage seems to be getting a lot more realistic lately now that the scope and cost of the problem is beginning to be evident. It’s harder and harder to get away with empty happy-talk when the costs are soaring into the tens of billions and government agencies are crumbling.

    And I don’t think it’s inevitable that Germany (alone among EU countries) has to accept uncontrolled mass immigration, especially of 40-50% people from the West Balkans. It’s simply become clear that much stricter border controls are necessary. And if Germany decides it’s going to allow hundreds of thousands of people of wildly varying ideologies, abilities, temperaments, religious views, and levels of education in, it’s going to need hundreds of thousands more teachers and police.

    Germany is capable of making dramatic policy changes quickly, as we saw after Fukushima. I would be in favor of one right now…


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