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The Emigration of Highly Qualified German Citizens of Turkish Descent to Turkey

The Emigration of Highly Qualified German Citizens of Turkish Descent to Turkey

The fall of 2011 was marked by the 50th anniversary of the agreement on the recruitment of Turkish workers (Gastarbeiter or “guest workers”) by the Federal Republic of Germany. The study focused in this connection on the migratory movements from Turkey to Germany which began with the signing of the recruitment agreement on October 30, 1961 and continued even after the recruitment stop in 1973. Considerably less attention has been paid, on the other hand, to the migration which has taken place in the opposite direction. Currently, more people are in fact migrating from Germany to Turkey than the other way around. In 2010 the Federal Republic recorded a negative migration balance vis-à-vis Turkey of 5,862 individuals. A total influx of 30,171 people from Turkey into Germany contrasted with a total of 36,033 people emigrating to Turkey. This trend has been evident since 2006, when for the first time since 1985 a negative German migration balance (of 1,780 individuals) vis-à-vis Turkey was recorded. Since then, the migration loss has increased. At the same time, this involves not only Turkish citizens who are turning their back on Germany. The percentage of German citizens taking part in this emigration to Turkey has also increased in recent years. From the migration statistics it is not clear, however, whether we are dealing with autochthonous Germans or with naturalized German citizens.

Increasing attention has been paid recently to emigration from Germany to Turkey, particularly as it involves the phenomenon of highly qualified people of the second generation of Turkish immigrants in Germany emigrating to Turkey. The present policy brief, which, above all, inquires into the motives behind this emigration of highly qualified people of Turkish descent, addresses this issue. Following an introduction to the topic, the policy brief focuses on the economic and emotional motives for such emigration. Afterwards, the basic conditions underlying this immigration and the integration of the immigrants in Turkey are examined. Finally, aspects of identification and instances of (ethnic) self-attribution of people of Turkish descent are discussed and the issue of whether the phenomenon of second-generation Turkish immigrants migrating from Germany to Turkey ought to be subsumed under the category “emigration” or “return migration” is addressed.