Symptoms of labour migration: Same, Same but different

6500 kilometres apart: Germany and Nepal could not be more different. One the one hand a developing country finding its place in the world between two superpowers China and India, on the other hand a bureaucratised, developed country where everything knows his place and roles. But despite of all differences, a lot of the problems that the people face in both countries are similar.

Since 2015, Germany does not get one political discussion without the topic of migration. With the refugee crisis migration became the centre of politics for months and one of the major topics of the recent election in 2017. For most Germans, immigrants are seen as a challenge Germany is facing: Not just economically, because they are supposedly costing the state an incredible amount of money and stealing the jobs, but also culturally since they are allegedly changing the “right” German culture into the wrong direction.

Caretaker in Germany
Most work migrants in Germany are taking care of elderly

But not only people seeking asylum are heading towards Germany, there is also a huge labour migration going on from the east to the west of Europe. In low-paying sectors like elderly care as well as in high-qualified sectors of science and medicine, Germany is depending on the people from the East like Poland, Latvia or Romania, to make the economy work. Thanks to the open borders of the EU, citizens from every country can roam freely and chose their working place without applying for a visa. Around 150.000 to 300.000 people from Poland or other Eastern European countries, a number estimated by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), are taking care of German elderly in 24 hours services. That is 75% of the number of German caretakers which do the same work in better conditions making more money.
These numbers alongside with other facts show that migration, forced or not, is a huge issue for Germany in the sectors of administration, culture but especially in terms of politics and economy.

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Work migration is an industry in Nepal, agencies promise jobs abroad on every corner

To put these problems in perspective, it may be helpful to see the other side of the medal, changing our focus from a land that people are immigrating to a country where people are emigrating from like Nepal. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) the money that Nepalis earn abroad makes, besides tourism and agriculture, a third of the national gross domestic product (GDP) of Nepal.
Over 500.000 Nepalis, 3 percent of Nepal’s total labour force, go abroad every year to work in the neighbouring countries or the golf countries to build stadiums for the Fifa world championship.  At the same time, around 48.000 Nepali students seek their higher education in other countries like Australia, the US or India, sometimes with the perspective of staying there. These numbers were published by the Ministry of Education in 2016 and show that for 100 students in Nepal 13  Nepalis are going abroad for higher education.
The situation of Germany is reflected in the labour and talent migration of Nepal: Skilled as well as unskilled workers are leaving their home country due to missing perspective or a bad wage situation to work in developed countries.

 

 

The problems resolving from these phenomena are same and different at the same time. At first, you see the economies profiting from the migration: In Nepal, the remittances are making the families more independent and support investments and entrepreneurs on a local level. Germany closes holes in the care systems and the sciences with labour migrants from the east, using the open boarders and working laws of the European Union. But looking on the long-term perspective, both societies become dependent on the migration. Nepal needs the money and the talent in their own country to develop, rebuild and protect it and can not effort to lose them to other countries. Germany cannot count on the foreign help forever since the Eastern European countries are on the rise themselves and losing their push factors. Without any changes inside, systems like the care system will collapse as soon as the migrants stop coming.

So, thinking long-term, it is essential to focus on the causes behind the symptoms of labour migration no matter if you are an Emigration or an Immigration country. Asking the question: “What is making the people leave or come her?”. In Nepal, these could be the bad wage situation compared to the neighbouring countries and the unavailability of jobs. In Germany, it is the huge pay and living standards gap inside Europe between the East and the West a long side with a morbid care and science system. These issues need to be focussed on by new government of both countries to give the economies a chance to sustain themselves without the help of global differences.  Because nobody like to leave their home behind.