The Economic Integration of Forced Migrants: Evidence for Post-War Germany


  • This article has benefited from comments by Manuel Bagues, Daniel Baumgarten, Lex Borghans, Lorenzo Cappellari, Toman Omar Mahmoud and seminar participants at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the Berlin Network of Labor Market Research (BeNA), and especially from comments by two anonymous referees and the editor, Antonio Ciccone. Thomas Bauer is grateful to the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) for the financial support. The views expressed here reflect those of the authors and not of the GIF. The empirical work was done during research visits at GESIS. The authors thank Paul Lüttinger for help with the data set. All remaining errors are our own.


The flight and expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe after World War II constitutes one of the largest forced population movements in history. We analyse the economic integration of these migrants and their offspring in West Germany. A quarter century after displacement, first-generation migrants still tend to fare worse economically. Displaced agricultural workers, however, exhibit higher incomes than comparable natives, as displacement caused large-scale transitions out of low-paid agriculture. Differences in economic outcomes of second-generation migrants resemble those of the first generation.