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Take Me “Home”: Return Migration among Germany's Older Immigrants



This paper examines the determinants of return migration as foreign-born men approach old age in Germany. Return migration in later life engages a different set of conditions from return migration earlier on, including the framing of return as a possible retirement strategy. Using 23 years of longitudinal data from the German Socioeconomic Panel, this paper investigates how social and economic resources of immigrant men influence decisions to return “home.” Results suggest that immigrants from former guest worker recruitment countries within the European Union are more likely to return than non-EU immigrants. In addition, return migrants are “negatively selected” so that those with the least education and weakest attachments to the labor force are more likely to emigrate. However, findings vary greatly depending on the immigrant's age and country of origin. Results from this paper highlight the heterogeneity of older immigrants and the factors that motivate their return “home”.