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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Take Me “Home”: Determinants of Return Migration Among Germany’s Elderly Immigrants


This paper examines the determinants of return migration as foreign-born individuals approach old age in Germany. Return migration in later life engages a different set of conditions than return migration earlier on, including framing return as a possible retirement strategy. Using data from the German Socioeconomic Panel, results suggest that later-life emigrants are “negatively selected” on the basis of economic resources. However, family resources such as spousal characteristics and ties to kin in “home” and “host” countries also shape decisions to return. Results from this paper highlight the broader importance of framing return migration within the processes of international migration and immigrant incorporation.

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