Remigration through development aid: a new approach

_ Yuri Kofner, economist, MIWI Institute for Market Integration and Economic Policy. Munich, 27 June 2022. 

The woke establishment as a factor for long-distance migration

On average, over 2,000 people die on the Mediterranean long-distance migration route every year.[1]

On the one hand, this is due to pull factors, above all an enticing migration and social policy in Western European countries, especially Germany, and of course the human smuggler gangs in cooperation with Western NGOs.

According to a recent study by the United Nations, for 60 percent of African “irregular” migrants, “sending money home” was the most important reason for migrating to Europe.[2]

Likewise, there are significant push factors for long-distance migration from Africa and the Middle East to Europe: overpopulation, relative poverty, local conflicts, and also Western regime-change interventions.

A remarkable study by the US Watson Institute concluded that US military interventions in Africa and the Middle East have displaced over 8 million refugees since 2001 (37 million if one includes internally displaced persons).[3]

German development aid: a lot of money for nothing

According to the OECD, Germany is the second largest donor of official development assistance (ODA) measured in euros and the seventh largest in relation to GDP. German ODA expenditure amounts to 0.6 percent of GDP or around EUR 19 billion on an annual average. German taxpayers pay an average of 517 euros per year for foreign development aid.[4]

Regrettably, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under the direction of the so-called “traffic light” (SPD, Greens and FDP) government is permeated through and through by a left-green zeitgeist. On its homepage, the ministry counts “the worldwide realization of human rights, the protection of climate and biodiversity, and gender equality” among the most important tasks of German development policy.[5]

In contrast, from a right-wing perspective, the development policy of the federal state of Bavaria has a much more correct approach (indeed only on paper). In Munich, the official focus is on combating the causes of flight and reducing migration pressure by improving local vocational and school education, infrastructure, administration and general living conditions in situ.[6]

A study by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy shows that a 1 percent increase in per capita GDP growth in developing countries reduces the pressure to emigrate to the OECD countries by 0.5 to 1 percent.[7]

Another study by the IfW Kiel shows that “early impact” development aid, e.g., the provision of modern seeds, has almost no impact on emigration, while an increase in “late impact” development aid, e.g., the construction of schools and hospitals or improving rule of law, reduce emigration flows from developing countries by up to 1.5 percent by 10 percent.[8]

Overpopulation is a major migration driver

Every single day Germany is losing a net village of 1,440 “Germans without a migration background”, while Africa’s population is growing by a net 84.3 thousand people every day.[9] In 2020, the average fertility rate in Germany was 1.5 and in Africa 4.3 births per woman.[10]

By 2017 (latest available data), more than 751,000 Africans immigrated to Germany.[11]

Money in turn fo remigration and the education of women

Germany must not only focus the provision of its more than lavish development aid on “late impact” investments, but also link them to the right conditions and quantitative criteria in terms of remigration and reducing the pressure to emigrate.

In order to make the spending more effective in terms of conservative (ethno- and multipolar) migration and development policy, the provision of funds for development projects must be made dependent on the following criteria:

First, any development project must demonstrably lead to an increase in the median educational level of women (in the local community) of the recipient country.

Empirical research clearly shows that contraceptive penetration, family counselling, women’s educational levels and their labour market participation are among the most important determinants of healthy population growth in Africa. A 10 percent increase in contraceptive prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa reduces the fertility rate by 0.83 births per woman.[12] Increasing the median length of schooling for women in sub-Saharan Africa by 1 year reduces the fertility rate by 0.65 births per woman, and increasing the family planning rating by 1 point reduces it by 0.83 births per woman.[13] Women with primary education tend to have up to 30 percent fewer children than women without any education.[14]

Second, as already indicated with reference to the Kiel studies, any development project must lead to a demonstrable reduction in the emigration rate (in the local community) from the recipient state.

Either welfare state or mass immigration – both is impossible

At least half of the asylum seekers who come to Germany are not actually refugees, since they do not flee to the nearest safe neighbouring country to avoid war or persecution, but seek a better life in far-away Germany primarily for socio-economic reasons. Even according to official statistics, less than 1 of the 2 million asylum seekers who immigrated to Germany between 2014 and 2019 were granted asylum or protection status. However, only 12.6 percent (127,000 people) of those obliged to leave the country have actually been deported so far.[15]

The lower estimates of the fiscal costs for the accommodation and integration of asylum seekers amount to 27.4 billion euros (average 2014-2019) to 35.6 billion (average 2016-2019) per year nationwide. Converted, each German citizen lifts between 330 and 430 euros for the asylum industry. In total, this is again more than the combined annual federal spending on education, research and health.[16]

In Bavaria alone, the annual average net expenditure under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act is 931 million euros. For comparison: Expenditure for the Bavarian family benefit amounts to an average of only 770 million euros per year. Here you can once again clearly see where the priorities of the government lie.[17]

In contrast to refugees from Ukraine, asylum seekers from the MENA region are mostly poorly educated: 86 percent have no vocational or university qualifications, 41 percent do not even have a school diploma.[18] They integrate unsatisfactorily into the labor market: between 2015 and 2019 around 40 percent of the asylum seekers living in Germany were unemployed.[19]

And as empirical research from Sweden,[20] Denmark[21] and the Netherlands[22] shows, migrants from the MENA region (compared to natives or Western immigrants) have negative fiscal impacts on the state budget for life. A study by the OECD (2013) estimates the net fiscal costs of immigrants in Germany to be between minus 1.1 and minus 2.3 percent of GDP.[23] According to calculations by Raffelhüschen (2018), every refugee taken in costs the German welfare state around 225,000 euros over the course of her or his life.[24]

UK-Rwanda agreement as a model for a workable remigration policy

Thirdly, in order to make illegal long-distance migration less attractive and to increase the remigration rate of rejected asylum seekers, another criterion for the provision of German development aid should be an agreement with the respective developing country to actively cooperate in the return migration of illegal immigrants and rejected asylum seekers.

Such a positive innovation in migration and development policy was proposed by Rothfuss (2020),[25] among others, and is currently being successfully implemented by Great Britain, which has regained sovereignty after Brexit, in cooperation with Rwanda. In April 2022, the UK signed an agreement with Rwanda on the deportation of illegal immigrants and rejected asylum seekers.[26] For the first 5 years of their stay in the Central African country, they receive free accommodation, training and integration courses – into Rwandan society, mind you. For this, London transfers 141 million euros to the local government.[27]

Compared to the economic and social costs of current mass immigration, that’s a good deal. And for both sides. On the one hand, Rwanda receives development aid and training for cultural workers, on the other hand, the incentives for dangerous long-distance migration and the state asylum costs are drastically reduced.

Germany should adopt Boris Johnson’s approach and sign appropriate asylum-remigration agreements with safe “anchor countries” in Africa and the Middle East. For example, the cost of living in Tunisia, Senegal or Jordan – possible partner countries for Germany, which according to the Global Peace Index are also among the safest countries in their respective regions[28] – are 66, 54 and 51 percent lower than in Germany.[29]


[1] IOM (2022). Number of recorded deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea from 2014 to 2021.


[2] UNDP (2019). Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe. URL:

[3] Vine D. (2020). Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post 9/11 Wars. Brown University. URL:

[4] OECD (2021). Net ODA. URL:

[5] BMZ (2022). Entwicklungspolitik. URL:

[6] StMWi (2022). Entwicklungspolitik.

[7] Bencek D., Schneiderheinze C. (2019). More development, less emigration to OECD countries – Identifying inconsistencies between cross-sectional and time-series estimates of the migration hump. IfW Kiel. URL:

[8] Schneiderheinze C., Thiele R. (2019). Kann Entwicklungshilfe den Migrationsdruck mindern? IfW Kiel. URL:

[9] Calculations based on: Destatis (2022). Bevölkerung* ohne und mit Migrationshintergrund (im engeren Sinn) in Deutschland von 2012 bis 2020. URL: | OWID (2022). Total population of Africa from 2000 to 2022. URL:

[10] World Bank (2022). Fertility rate, total (births per woman). URL:

[11] World Bank (2022). Migration and Remittances Data. Bilateral Migration Matrix 2017. URL:

[12] Bongaarts J. (2017). The effect of contraception on fertility: Is sub-Saharan Africa different? Population Council. URL:

[13] Bongaarts J. (2020). Trends in fertility and fertility preferences in sub-Saharan Africa: the roles of education and family planning programs. URL:

[14] Kim J. (2016). Female education and its impact on fertility. IZA. URL:

[15] Author’s calculations using statistics by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and: Deutscher Bundestag (2020). Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion DIE LINKE. Drucksache 19/17096. URL:

[16] Calculations based on: AfD-Fraktion im Hessischen Landtag (2020). Wie es wirklich um Deutschland steht. Fakten statt Fake News. URL:

[17] bpb (2022). Asylbedingte Kosten und Ausgaben. URL: | StMFH (2022). Haushalt. URL:

[18] Brücker H. (2017). Integration in Arbeitsmarkt und Bildungssystem macht weitere Fortschritte. IAB. URL:

[19] BA (2020). Auswirkungen der Migration auf den deutschen Arbeitsmarkt. URL:

[20] Ruist J. (2019). The fiscal lifetime cost of receiving refugees. CREAM. URL:

[21] Economist (2021). Why have Danes turned against immigration? Danish Finance Ministry. URL:

[22] De Graaff M. (2022). Effects of immigration on public finances in social security in the Netherlands. MIWI Institute. URL:

[23] OECD (2013). The fiscal impact of immigration in OECD countries. URL:

[24] Raffelhüschen, B. (2018). Offene Grenzen oder generöser Sozialstaat: Beides geht nicht. ifo Institut. URL:

[25] Rothfuß R. (2020). Wege aus der Migrationskrise. Leitlinien für ein

exterritoriales Schutz- und Entwicklungskonzept und eine Remigrationsagenda für Europa. ID

Fraktion im Europäischen Parlament. URL:

[26] CNN (2022). Rwanda expects first 50 asylum seekers transferred from UK by end of May. URL:

[27] Junge Freiheit (2022). Ruanda soll Asylverfahren für Großbritannien bearbeiten. URL:

[28] Institute for Economics (2021). Global Peace Index 2021. URL:

[29] The calculated cost of living index for 2021 is based on data by the OECD, World Bank, IMW and Eurostat. URL:


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