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The Impact of Refugee Migration on Germany’s Aging Society: A Gerontological Critique

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This paper presents a gerontological critique of the events that made up the so-called “welcome culture” in the European Refugee Crisis in 2015/16 and of the discourses analyzing and presenting this crisis. It starts by showing how gerontological aspects are systematically overlooked in analyses of this crisis, and that the failure to include gerontological concerns in a world that is overall characterized by skewed distribution of aging societies and rejuvenating societies is also visible in the fixation on nation states as sole agents in refugee crisis scenarios. For this argument the paper resorts to Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of “liquid lives” and his assessment of international refugee scenarios. The paper also aims to contribute to a more careful understanding of the unique German role in the European Refugee Crisis in 2015/16. It will also show that, although the impact on demographic development of the aging society in Germany was limited, the refugee crisis and concomitant “welcome culture” did have a positive influence on the group of senior citizens in a social perspective and on the future ratio of German residents with migration background. The paper critically discusses terminology and data provided by the German government and the Federal Office for Statistics and provides information on the specific impact of this refugee crisis on senior citizens and their role in German “welcome culture”. The article in hand was supported by MEXT grant-inaid:17H05116.

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