What’s the difference between German and Romanian immigrants?

19 May 2014

4:30 PM

19 May 2014

4:30 PM

Nigel Farage is in the papers again today – unbelievably! – this time with a full-page advert in the Telegraph responding to his remarks about Romanians on LBC radio.

Such was the universal media condemnation over his interview with James O’Brien that on Saturday even the Sun had an editorial on anti-Romanian racism. You couldn’t make it up.

Farage was stereotyping, and his tone of ‘you know what the difference is’ hit the wrong note, which lost him the argument over a fairly reasonable point; that is, the typical profile of a German migrant is very different to that of a Romanian migrant. For example, recent figures released showed that more than 600 Romanians and only 83 Germans were residing in UK jails, despite there being more German-born people here. On top of this a third of Romanians in Britain have been arrested, and Romanians do account for a large proportion of cash point crime in particular.


This is not to slight Romanian people. Germany is a very rich country, Romania a relatively poor one. The profile of the typical migrant from a rich to rich country is very different from one moving from a poor to rich one; the former migration attracts very highly-skilled, well-educated people, and the latter a great deal of adventurers and criminals as well as decent, hard-working people. German criminals tend to stay home, just as do British lags, except when they’ve done an armed blag and need to escape to the Costa del Sol. People in rich countries therefore have always been wary about migrants from poor countries in the way they wouldn’t from rich ones. Is that so complicated?

This comes down to the argument about whether ‘immigrants’ benefit the country. This is as meaningless as asking ‘are foreigners better at football than England?’ Put that to a football fan and he’d respond ‘which team? Brazil? San Marino? Scotland?’ If people talking about something as trivial as football ask such necessary questions, shouldn’t we be a bit more analytical about something important? Immigrants from the developed world generally benefit the economy, because the very highly-skilled disproportionately travel between rich countries (and British emigrants also benefit the countries they move to).

No immigrant group can therefore serve as a lesson about immigration generally. Mehdi Hasan was writing the other day about the founders of Tesco and Marks and Spencer and why that means we should embrace immigration today. But why? The success of Mr Cohen and Mr Marks tells us a great deal about the wisdom of letting their families come here, and it says something about the wisdom of letting in eastern European Jews in general, if Cohen and Marks were representative of a disproportionately successful group (which they were). It says literally nothing about the wisdom of allowing in, say, Somali migrants in the 1990s.

The term ‘immigrant’ is essentially meaningless in statistical terms unless we break down the figures, and this involves some degree of profiling. And although Farage was wrong to stereotype, almost everyone in practice does so in his or her private life. No one, however pure of heart, would move into an area where he was told a ‘large proportion of the population are foreign-born’ without checking out what exactly was meant by this. He might not say it, because of a mixture of social nous, politeness and hypocrisy, but his revealed preference would speak volumes (consider the obsessive degree to which many people will go to in order to get the right school for their kids).

And if he was lucky enough to be rich, then it would matter less because housing costs form as good a filter as the most stringent immigration controls on earth. So if you lived in Highgate, which is perhaps the most German area in Britain, and a Romanian moved into the £2m house next door, you could be reasonably sure that he’s not going to be the sort of person who turns up in all those lovely tabloid articles about ‘Romanians coming to steal from you’.

Such mild hypocrisy is necessary for people to rub along together, but politics sometimes involves discussing things honestly, even if it offends. Farage’s tone may have been all wrong, but the Dowager Lady moral outrage of his media critics is exactly the thing that breeds cynicism in the public.

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Show comments
  • Dacus

    Difference between Romanians and a Germans?
    A German is far most likely to be a benefit “scrounger” that a Romanian. The following DWP table demonstrates it:
    Data for 2013 rearranged in descending order show that Germany is far ahead Romania in term of receiving benefits: 4590 versus 1740. The latest census gave about 274000 Germans living in UK while the number of number of Romanians in UK, is estimated at 120000. In plain English the Germans are twice as much as Romanians. The ratio of German population versus Romanian population is approximately 2.2 yet the ration of benefit recipients is 2.74.
    In terms of benefit claimants registered by the DWP, 1 out of 60 Germans is on benefits versus only 1 out of 69 Romanians. The DWP statistics shows that Romanians are more hardworking and less likely to get benefits than Germans. Farage’s German neighbours are more likely to be benefit scroungers than Romanians.
    I reckon that UKIP and Farage would be too tired to comment on the above.

  • StephanieJCW

    I must be the only person who genuinely could not care less on the national origins of my neighbours/a neighbourhood I am moving too. I honestly, genuinely don’t.

    Crime rates / social scene / distance from work/central locations – yes.

    Affordability, distance of shops and supermarkets, green spaces, gyms, health clubs – yes.

    Large proportion of foreign born people? – couldn’t care less.

    Agree on the rest though, particularly on different profile of immigrants. Of course Farage was sloppy in how he expressed it (no I wouldn’t care if a family of Romanians moved next door, if they were poor criminals they couldn’t afford an apartment in my block, and if I was so poor I had to live in a dodgy area which is more likely to attract dodgy people, I’d have more to worry about that Romanians next door.)

    But we should be able to distinguish between EU migrants in the same manner we can implement controls on non EU migrants.

  • Chingford Man

    Ed is right about people making choices about where they would like to live on criteria that they might prefer not to discuss openly.

    Northern Ireland has seen demographic change over the last few decades as the Catholic population has expanded. This has meant places “changing colour”. For example, the village of Crumlin in County Antrim near the International Airport has been transformed by Catholic resettlement from west Belfast. It’s an informal rule of thumb that the tipping point in the eyes of Protestants is when a rising Catholic population hits 40pc. After that point, the Catholic proportion of a district grows more quickly as Protestants refuse to move into these places or quietly move to cluster with others of the same religion.

    I think the same principle is transferable. Chingford was always considered to be one of the better bits of the East End but is now changing quite rapidly with influx from multicultural and unsettled Ilford and Walthamstow bringing problems to the area. Add to the mix the growing presence of eastern European migration. I doubt Chingford will be a Tory area long-term and social change will be the cause.

    • Fergus Pickering

      This is known as white flight when the incomers are black or brown. Our rich party leaders will not have experienced this, nor are they likely to until the Caliphate is upon us. Then they will be killed, their women raped and their children enslaved. Well, they wold do it.

  • linksonice

    A 1/3 of Romanians have been arrested? That is so wrong. The number used is the number of arrests, not the number of different people for crying out loud. We’re talking about reoffenders for petty crimes. Convictions don’t even come into the picture, and those aren’t even mentioned. How many times does it need to be said?

  • Rasvan Lalu

    This is a poorly researched article where false informations are taken as arguments
    to reinforce common places and prejudices. Some examples:
    1. „a third of Romanians in Britain have been arrested“
    This is utterly false:
    a. “Arrested” is different from “charged” or “convicted”. A simple check in traffic becomes an “arrest” in statistics if you are asked to go to the Police station for ID verification.
    b. In many cases the same person was “arrested” several times. (f.i. Gypsies sleeping rough)
    c. The figure – 27725 arrests – has been related to an immaginary 80-90 000 Romanians in the UK. In reality, they are about 200 000.
    d. This figure – 27725 arrests – is for a five years period.
    To compare, only in 2012 more than 5.6million crimes were committed in the UK. If multiplied by five years, one could reach the conclusion that 28million Britons have committed crimes. It is, of course, a non-sense, as it is a non-sense to say that one third of Romanians living in the UK have been arrested.

    2. „Romanians do account for a large proportion of cash point crime in particular.“
    This “information“ typically comes from DM: „Police intelligence suggests 92 per cent are linked to Romanian immigrants already in the UK.“
    Both the Met and the City of London Police strongly denied the figures presented and criticised them for being misleading and not substantiated by any statistics or current “police intelligence”. At the end of 2012, only 47 Romanians were detained for fraud related matters. According
    to a recent statement of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit in London: “The latest annual figures show that, in 2012, the top five countries for fraudulent activity on UK issued cards were USA, France, Luxembourg, Italy and Ireland”. Romanians are not mentioned on this top list.

    The fact that the lowest social segments of the Romanian immigration are way lower quality
    than their German correspondent is beyond doubt. Nevertheless, this has very little
    to do with such silly cheap sociology: „The profile of the typical migrant from a rich to rich country is very different from one moving from a poor to rich one; the former migration attracts very highly-skilled,well-educated people, and the latter a great deal of adventurers and criminals …“

    • Ed West

      Dear Mr Lalu, I linked to the two sources from which those claims came from, both of which were quality newspapers. They may be wrong – British newspapers have been known to get things wrong – nevertheless the statistics show Romanians are over-represented in the UK prison system. Germans are under-represented. That is the reality; therefore it is not unreasonable for the British public to see Romanian immigration in a different light to German immigration. Ed

      • Tudor Dimitriu

        Not only that. It’s also the type of criminality that matters. I’m sure other groups account for much more of the white collar crime, which, in turn, does much more financial damage. But begging, mugging and pick pocketing are a lot more socially disruptive than white collar crime. As a tourist, I’ve been annoyed by my own countrymen all over Europe, from Paris to Rome and from Palermo to Barcelona. They are, unfortunately, ubiquitous in the streets of Europe’s greatest cities. I can only recall comparably disturbing behaviour in association with highly charged football matches and the Parisian slums.

        • mohdanga

          When tourists travel to Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc not many care that there may be a bond fraud occurring in an office in the CBD…..but, as you say, they are much more concerned that roving bands of gypsies will set upon them.

        • Richard

          There are no Parisian slums.

          • Tudor Dimitriu

            Then how would you describe those council housing areas between Paris proper and the wealthy suburbs, right about the Peripherique 2? I have relatives living in Montmorency, and while commuting between downtown and their house I once took a wrong exit and landed in one of those neighborhoods. I got out of it as soon as I could. Everything was run down, people spoke dubious French and, considering the time of the day, it was full of unemployed people loitering around. I know Detroit is worse, I’ve done that too, but by any European standards it’s disastrous.

            • Richard

              I know what you mean but the buildings themselves, public housing, are new with central heating/double glazing etc, just like in London.

      • linksonice

        The DM is a “quality newspaper” you say? Isn’t this the paper that said “flights from Sofia and Bucharest are 100% full, but you can get a seat for £3000?”, and then later offered a half-hearted apology for the use of such unmitigated, blatant BS? The DM is the basis for UKIPs hate campaign against Romanians. That’s your “quality newspaper” right there, and don’t forget how they supported Hitler too.

        • Dacus

          Daily Mail has always been biased against Romanians. When Hitler occupied Poland, Daily Mail was advising Hitler to break Romania and give a province to each od Romania’s neighbours.
          As for Daily Express, another Romanian hater, suffice to say that its Editor is the UKIP communication director. Nuff said.

        • Fergus Pickering

          And I’ve no doubt they supported Bonny Prince Charlie. Away with them!

      • Mr Grumpy

        Ed. it’s a real shame when such good writing gets let down by shoddy research. In this case, while Mr Lalu may have some valid points, what neither he nor you has noted is that the arrests figure comes from the Met – it’s that many in London alone. So you may actually have understated your case.

    • linksonice

      Very well said Mr. Lalu. Best comment on this article so far.

    • CBinTH

      I love everything about your comment except for that last paragraph criticising the “silly cheap sociology”. Surely that is only common sense?

  • Denis_Cooper

    Let’s start with the proposition that this is our country and we should be able to control who is allowed into it.

    Oh, no, silly me, that would be a waste of time because according to our politicians this is not our country at all.

  • LB

    This comes down to the argument about whether ‘immigrants’ benefit the country.


    It does, and its the key question.

    Now you can fall in to the racist argument beloved of Labour. Namely, migrants are better than Brits because a smaller percentage are on welfare. Or the one I had the other day, which was migrants have saved the Brits from inbreeding.

    Or more accurately, you take the non racist approach and that is to treat people as individuals.

    That means the question is quite simple. Does that migrant make a NET contribution to the UK whilst they are here?

    The answer in a lot of cases is no. The reason is that the state spends on average 11.5K per person per year, and for the adults you need another 5K a year to cover their pensions.

    So you ignore the big question and brush it away, try and hide it. It’s always the questions that are ignored that reveal the true problems.

  • TRAV1S

    The French certainly think so, didn’t they deport all those Romanians back to Romania the other year? Can’t remember them kicking out the Germans, well not since 1945.

    • FergusReturns

      “Can’t remember them kicking out the Germans, well not since 1945.”

      Didn’t we have to do that for them? They seemed to have some trouble managing it on their own.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I should make it clear that this Fergus is in no way related to me. However, for the present I will let him live.

        • Kitty MLB

          No, you will always be the original Fergus, a breath of fresh air,
          in this place dear old fellow. That Fergus needs to be on his best
          behaviour and not let the name down. Or that Fergus returns
          to the road of no return.
          But he does seem to be a rather quiet chap, he’s not yet said
          boo to a duck, or however the saying goes.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Boo to a duck! I like it.

            • Kitty MLB

              Oh, I get on well with ducks until they shuffle off this mortal coil
              A Christmas Eve once I sprained my arm getting a couple of
              them out of the freezer. I named them Mary and Joseph and
              the husband said it was divine intervention. There have been
              broken arms, bones in throats, slipping on ice and food poisoning and all because of a deceased duck or too.
              Oh and Fergus, guess what we will be having for dinner on
              Saturday.. I shall wonder down the hill and be nice to a couple
              of live ducks before going shopping.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Duck is what Jesus eats in Heaven, though I’m not entirely sure how that works. Can Jesus kill ducks? Aylesbury ducks are the ones, or so I am told.

                • Kitty MLB

                  No Jesus cannot kill ducks. He pops down to Dante’s Inferno
                  and finds one ready roasted from those hot fires. ( Oh sorry
                  Jesus) Somewhat concerned that you have a messenger from
                  heaven. But at least you know that Jesus has a splendid taste
                  in breeds of duck. Aylesbury ducks are quite delicious. I suppose the duck is accompanied with manna from Heaven.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  No. Peas and Duchesse potatoes. And a bottle of yer actual plonk.

                • Kitty MLB

                  Oh yes the drink ! As long as he doesn’t become blotto and bump into Angels and start swinging from the pearly gates or
                  his Father will tell him off. Fergus, the Duchesse potatoes sound quite delicious
                  will make some to go with our duck and then pudding.
                  If Jesus had pudding I suppose it must be apples from the Garden of Eden ..Just Sayin.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Ah pudding! I was swimming in the swimming bath thinking of cream buns..

                • Kitty MLB

                  Oh cream buns ! So divinely sinful, they could have been created by Satan himself. I always chose pudding first when
                  eating out in restaurants. Drives people around the bend, but
                  what can I say, I feel no guilt in the slightest…

    • linksonice

      You mean gypsies don’t you, but you’re too afraid to say it, because if you did you would be considered a racist. It’s ok to say Romanians, because thanks to Garage and the kippers, it’s ok to be racist toward Romanians. I associate the English with football hooligans and pedophiles, and wouldn’t want to live next to any, How do you like that?

      • Fergus Pickering

        You can live where you like, friend, but not here.

  • Kitty MLB

    Do we not sometimes get Romanians mixed up with gypsies. Grubby, travelling people who cause mayhem who are not true Romany people…Just sayin !!!!

    • Fergus Pickering

      I think the Roma re for the most part grubby, travelling people. Or that’s certainly what they look like over here. Perhaps the true Romanies stay at home. Why would they come here?.

  • MrJones

    spot on

  • ClausewitzTheMunificent

    I like Romanians. I do not like Gypsies and Romanian criminals, who tend to leave Romania for easier prey abroad. I was talking to a Romanian a few months ago who said, yep, Romania’s really safe now because all the trash has moved out to the rest of the EU. Who can honestly say the same about the Germans?

    • Tudor Dimitriu

      I couldn’t agree more. In the early nineties, my parents’ car got burglared on average twice a year. Now I can leave a laptop bag on the back seat and chances are I will not find a broken window the next day and my laptop will still be there. I routinely leave expensive sports accessories on the car and nobody steals them. I didn’t change my neighborhood in the last 20 years, so the thieves must have left.

  • Dexter

    At last a fair balanced article about UKIP, well done you…

    • telemachus

      This article is one of the most racially charged that I have read since Farage did his heinous interview
      Farage is digging himself in ever deeper with each successive interview
      We can only hope that after the triumph of Thursday British voters will reflect and turn back from moral destruction

      • Al

        Racially charged? That you ever read?
        Are you actually serious?

        You know this is the Spectator blog, not the New Statesmans, don’t you?

  • la catholic state

    Romanians probably bring more family values than Germans. And that’s a very good thing.

    • LB

      And, on average take money via the state from other people. i.e. Because they are poor they will be net takers rather than net givers.

      • la catholic state

        Some things cannot be measured in money. Man does not live by bread alone. No wonder Britain is sinking. Try to widen your vision to include more than mere lucre. It makes life so much richer when you do.

        • LB

          I like chocolate. However, I don’t have Aztec temples where human sacrafices go on in order to get the food of the gods. You can have it, and all it needs is trade, not mass migration.

          Now, how about a compromise. You can have your poor migrants in the UK, subject to one condition. If they don’t pay enough tax, you make up the difference for your cultural reasons. Nothing stopping you making up the difference is there?

          Well, bar one thing. The cost. For a family of 4 on benefits, you would need to stump up 45K a year for starters. And you would have to make sure you cover your own costs too. 11.5K per year (more if you have dependants).

          It’s the cost that dire.

          • la catholic state

            You didn’t address any of my points but changed the subject.

            • LB

              Well, I was trying, but you didn’t make a point directly, so I tried to read between your lines.

              ie. The food reference, not money. So perhaps its food or culture that has to come from migrants. A good example is chocolate. It’s not native to the UK, and yet you can enjoy it without migration because of trade.

              So the bit that is wrong with your argument is that you can have the richness of world wide culture and food without migration, and chocolate is a good example proving your assertion wrong.

              So what about my question to you? Are you going to save others from being forced to subsidise and bail out migrants on welfare by sponsoring them yourself? If not why not?

      • linksonice

        Wrong. Romanians on average are less likely to be on benefits than any other national minority group in the UK, and are also academically qualified above average compared to most groups including indigenous British. But hey, don’t let that shake your “kippered” belief system based on confirmation bias, and continue reading “The Daily Fail”.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Romanians are all saints and millionaires. Adopt a Romanian NOW!

        • LB

          So the Romanians on benefits are taking money from others.

          So how much tax does a migrant need to pay to be a net contributor?

          Lets see. Average government spend per person, 11.5K. Now I don’t buy your racists view that Romanians good, Brits crap. On average there is no difference between the two.

          So each migrant needs to earn 40K plus just to break even. That applies to dependents too and it ignores pensions.

          Nope, not many are net contributors.

          So all those Romanian benefit claimants are cutting up the fixed welfare pot into smaller chunks, and the Brits have to make do with less.

          Obvious question. Why don’t you sponsor a Romanian benefit claimant and make up the difference so the rest don’t have to pay? Do you have a spare 45K a year?