Internal Return Migration – a Promising Potential for Rural Development? Evidence Based on Quantitative Survey Data from Germany

Thomas Skora , Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

Returning migrants are increasingly considered to play a crucial role for rural development. By increasing the human capital endowment of their home regions, returnees are considered key players for institutional change and the creation of new jobs. Moreover their strong attachment to their home region is supposed to translate into high levels of civic engagement. Yet little is known about the potential impacts of return migration for rural regions. Drawing on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) for the years 1990 to 2017, this paper aims to assess the potential impacts of return migration for rural regions in Germany by analyzing the characteristics and activities of people who have returned to the region where they grew up in comparison to those who have never left this region (stayers) and those who have moved in (in-migrants). In accordance with the current debates regarding the potentials of return migrants for their home region, special attention is given to differences regarding the human capital endowment in terms of education and entrepreneurial activities as well as social capital endowments in terms of civic engagement. Returnees in rural regions are found to have a higher formal education than the immobile local community, supporting the assumption that returnees bring in new knowledge and skills to their home region. However, in contrast to results of previous studies, returnees are not found to be highly engaged in volunteer work. Rather, moving away is associated with reduced engagement and returnees stay less engaged.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy