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The Employment Effects of Immigration: Evidence from the Mass Arrival of German Expellees in Postwar Germany

  • Sebastian Braun (a1) and Toman Omar Mahmoud (a2)
Abstract

This article studies the employment effects of one of the largest forced population movements in history, the influx of millions of German expellees to West Germany after World War II. This episode of forced mass migration provides a unique setting to study the causal effects of immigration. Expellees were not selected on the basis of skills or labor market prospects and, as ethnic Germans, were close substitutes to native West Germans. Expellee inflows substantially reduced native employment. The displacement effect was, however, highly nonlinear and limited to labor market segments with very high inflow rates.

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The article has benefited from comments and suggestions by Eckhardt Bode, Michael C. Burda, Albrecht Glitz, Michael Kvasnicka, Alexandra Spitz-Oener, Andreas Steinmayr, Nikolaus Wolf, participants of research seminars in Berlin and Kiel, and especially from comments by three anonymous referees and the editor, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal. Martin Müller-Gürtler and Richard Franke provided excellent research assistance. All remaining errors are our own.

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