Germany has risen to become the world's number two destination for permanent migration, overtaking Britain and Canada, after the sovereign-debt crisis spurred southern Europeans to leave home, according to a survey.
While the US still draws the most settlers, Germany jumped from eighth place in 2009 to second in 2012, with permanent migration rising 38 per cent on the year, said a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The "Migration Policy Debates" study, published on Tuesday, revealed that Germany attracted 400,000 permanent immigrants in 2012.
"Such a strong increase from one year to another has been rarely observed in any major OECD country," said Thomas Liebig, one of the authors of the study. "We can clearly speak about a boom of migration to Germany without exaggeration."
Germany, which has Europe's oldest population and the second-lowest birthrate, after Monaco, has adapted immigration policies since 2000 to attract labour. Twenty-five years after former chancellor Helmut Kohl declared that Germany "is not and can never be an immigration country", one in three migrants within Europe now moves there in search of work. It was one in 10 in 2007.
Germany, the largest economy, is key to the 18-nation currency bloc's drive to sustain a recovery from its longest-ever recession amid weak price growth. The nation's gross domestic product expanded more than economists forecast last quarter, offsetting an unexpected stalling in France and contractions from Italy to the Netherlands.
Spain has experienced the greatest immigration decline since 2007, with the number of migrants dropping to 275,000 from 692,000, according to the OECD. The organisation defines permanent immigrants as foreigners settling in a country who have acquired the right to permanent residence.
A greater portion of immigrants moving to Germany was classed as "highly educated" - 34 per cent in 2012 compared with 30 per cent in 2007.
A shortage of qualified employees was costing small and medium-sized German companies €31 billion (HK$329.3 billion) in lost annual revenue, Ernst & Young said in January.