Demographic aging as well as previous and future immigration form important demographic trends in Germany. Both trends come together when it comes to retirement of immigrants. The project investigates pension entitlement of recently retired immigrants and their employment careers in Germany prior to retirement. Previous research has underlined that the retirees who immigrated to Germany receive under-average pensions by the German statutory pension scheme. This is due to fact that immigrants’ insertion in the German labor market and hence their first contribution to German social security take place at a later age than among the natives. Furthermore, immigrants tend to have under-average salaries and face a higher risk of becoming unemployed than natives. As public pensions mainly depend on years of employment and its related income, this type of employment careers is bound to lead to under-average pensions. Building on these insights, the research projects seeks to further explore the following questions:

Which immigrants aged 65 (the formal age of retirement) and older actually receive German public old-age pensions and which do not? Lacking this income resource puts people at a high risk of experiencing old-age poverty. Among those immigrants who do indeed get old-age pensions: How can we characterize the (German) employment trajectories of immigrants, and which employment patterns lead to average or below-average pension entitlements? Which social characteristics go hand in hand with differing employment careers?

Whether or not the retired immigrants receive an additional old-age pension from the country of origin, will set an important distinction among their group. This additional old-age pension is made possible by bi- or multilateral social security agreements between Germany and a selected number of states (e.g. all EU member states and many OECD countries). Transnational social rights embedded in such agreements can modify the potential risk that international employment careers impose on old-age security and help to avoid poverty in later life. We will compare immigrants with such pensions from abroad to those without one.

The empirical analysis is based on two nationally representative data sets: the German “sample census” (Mikrozensus) of 2012, an annual survey of 1% of all German households, as well as the 20%-random sample of “completed insurance biographies” (Vollendete Versichertenleben [VVL]) provided by the German statutory pension insurance and based on the individual pension accounts of persons drawing on their old-age pension in 2014 for the first time. The VVL data allow analyzing the entire German employment career (spells of e.g. employment, unemployment, child care) using the statistical methods of sequence and cluster analysis. Our project will compare the immigrants' situation with the natives', but its main focus is on the social inequalities among immigrants.