migration  An Overview of Migration in Carinthia and Austria

Author: Georg Karner |contact: mail@georgkarner.com |state of Information: 18.10.2012 |( The complete article can be downloaded here )

Who is a foreigner?

The term foreigner is widespread in Austria and is used differently accordingly to one’s point of view. Legally differences are made according to origin: EU/European Economic Area country citizens as well as Swiss nationals are given the right to move around, while third country nationals have to comply with stricter entry and rights to residence requirements.

Austria in comparison with the EU

Austria is both according to its immigration rate (ø12.3‰ between 2000 and 2010) and percentage of immigrants (10.81% in 2011) in the upper third of member states and therefore considerably above the EU average. Austria furthermore records a relatively constant foreigner percentage increase, which conforms with the foreigner percentage increase in the entire European Union. This increase is mainly attributed to a positive migratory balance between EU and EFTA  citizens.

Carinthia in comparison with other federal states

Carinthia ranks among the federal states with the lowest percentage of foreigners (7.3%)  with a particularly low percentage of third country nationals. Altogether 11.08% of the population of Carinthia is of foreign origin, which is also a comparatively low number. Within Carinthia the authorities of Villach city (13.06%)  and Klagenfurt city (11.09%) are prominent with a comparatively high percentage of foreigners. In both cases third country nationals account for the majority. These authorities also lead the field with those considered to be of foreign origin. Elsewhere EU and EFTA citizens predominate in most authorities.

Residency status / Asylum

At the beginning of 2010 there were 4% of asylum seekers among third-country nationals in Austria. In the population statistics these are not shown separately, nor is a breakdown according to federal state provided. In the reference period  2001 – 2011 there is a clear downward trend regarding applications for asylum submitted. The number of positively rated outcomes remains relatively constant. In 2012 this was 21% of all applications. In Austria only two federal states, Vienna and Lower Austria, observe their asylum obligations.

Demographic forecast

In Austria there is a positive population forecast owing to a positive migration balance,
with a population increase of over 9.4 million people by 2075. Carinthia is the only federal state which will see a comparative contraction, as its migration balance cannot compensate for the negative birth rate. Carinthia shows most notably a negative domestic migration balance.

Language and Education

Children of non-German colloquial language in Austria have special needs in their spoken language more frequently than German speaking children, where the occurrence can be reduced through measures early in their education. In Carinthia the percentage of pupils with a non-German colloquial language is comparatively small. With regard to educational attainment achievement, people with a migration background have a very different educational profile to those with no migration background. Very low and very high educational achievements form a disproportionately large percentage.


Author: Georg Karner | Email: mail@georgkarner.com | Date: 18.10.2012 | Current information: 18.10.2012.

Who is a foreigner? Terminology and Problems

How can somebody actually be described as a foreigner in Austria? The answer to this question is not as simple as it initially seems. To answer it, different views as well as different legislative bases regarding a person’s origins have to be considered.

The simplest is the distinction of nationality, whereby every living person in Austria without Austrian nationality is deemed to be a foreigner. A possible Austrian ancestry is however not recognized. This is apparently done by determining somebody’s origin, according to which everybody born abroad, regardless of any possible Austrian nationality acquired in the meantime, is pooled. The difference between these approaches is clearly shown in the graph below (Figure 1). Also considered is the term for people with a migration background, which means everybody whose parents were both born abroad, even if they themselves were born in Austria. What is important in this context is that citizenship in Austria is passed on from the parents to the children, according to the principle of ancestry (vgl.help.gv.at). To sum up, the foreigner term therefore refers only in a strict sense to nationals from foreign countries, but includes in a wider sense larger sections of the population.

Furthermore, differences in the legal treatment of foreigners according to their origins also need to be considered. For EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens the right of free movement applies inside the EU/EEA zone. This applies for Swiss citizens too, who as European Free Trade Association but not EEA citizens comply largely with the  same principles. For third country nationals stricter entry and residency conditions clearly apply (see residence permit), which is why a clear division is required, and the statistical handling of data still needs to be partially rectified (imprecise breakdown and consolidation).

Definitions of Foreigners

Proportion of non-Austrians: number of foreign nationals as a percentage of the population as a whole.

Population of foreign origin: Total number of foreign national plus Austrian nationals born outside Austria.

Population with a migrant background: Total number of persons whose two parents were both born outside Austria. Those persons who were themselves born outside Austria belong to the “first immigrant generation.”children born in Austria to immigrant parents born outside Austria belong to the “second immigrant generation.”

Third-country national: A foreigner who is not a national of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland. 

Residence Authorisation

Right of free movement: Nationals of an EU or EEA country and Switzerland and their family dependants have the right to reside in Austria for more than 3 months if they meet the legal criteria. They do not require a residence permit, but must apply for a residential registration certificate or residence card.

Residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel): Citizens of third countries who reside in Austria for more than 3 months (with the exception of asylum seekers and those with recognisd refugee status) require a residence permit (provisional  residential status, temporary residence permit, residence authorisation for  family dependants or permanent residence permit).



Definitions according to Statistik Austria: Migration & Integration. Figures. Data. Indicators. Vienna: 2012, page 113f.

Fig. 1: Ibid., p 27.

help.gv.at: https://www.help.gv.at/portal.Node/hlpd/public/content/26/Seite.260410.html (17.10.2012)

Migration – Austria in comparison with the EU

Within the European Union Austria shows both a high immigration rate and also a high number of foreigners compared to the other countries. In both cases Austria is in the upper third of European countries and is clearly above the entire European figure. In the years 2000 – 2010 Austria recorded an average immigration rate of 12.3% (Figure 2) and so lies 4.5% above Germany. The EU leader with regard to the immigration rate is Luxembourg with 30.1% on average. Particularly low immigration rates were recorded by the member states that joined since 2004. More than half the immigrants in Austria come from the EU or European Free Trade Area (EFTA), while Germans make up the largest number. A part of the intake is returning Austrians.


The number of foreigners in Austria in 2011 was 10.81% (Figure 3) which was 4.18% above the entire European figure and 2% higher than in Germany. As with the immigration rate, the leader is once more Luxembourg with a foreigner number of 43.12%. The young member states show low figures here too.

In a year on year comparison of foreigner numbers (Figure 4), Austria shows a consistent increase between 2007 and 2011 with a stutter in 2010, which other countries also have. The increase was similarly marked in the entire EU. Germany on the other hand kept its foreigner number just about constant. If one revises the number for nationals from EU and EFTA countries (Figure 5), it is noticeable that hardly any increase occurs (in Germany it is actually negative). While the net migration change for third-country nationals is just about neutral, EU and EFTA nationals record a clearly positive balance.


Sources: Statistik Austria: Migration & Integration. Figures. Data. Indicators. Vienna: 2012, p. 34f. | Fig. 2: Ibid. | Fig. 3-5: Eurostat.

Migration – Carinthia in comparison with other federal states

In Austria Carinthia ranks among the federal states with the lowest percentage of foreigners (7.3%) (Figure 6) and is on the same level as Lower Austria (7.16%) and Styria (7.23%). Burgenland has rather fewer with 6.09%. Upper Austria has more with 9.11%. The remaining federal states have considerably more – predominantly Vienna with a foreigner percentage of 22.32%. Carinthia is also clearly below the Austrian average of 11.63%. If EU/EFTA citizens are taken away, Carinthia (3.75%) is actually in last but one place – only Burgenland has even fewer third-country nationals. In terms of distribution of foreigners, only Burgenland and Tirol show more EU/EFTA  citizens than third-country nationals.

According to origin (Figure 7), the ranking of federal states changes only slightly at the lower end. With 11.64%, Lower Austria just leads Carinthia (11.08%) and Styria (11.01%). Burgenland again comes last with 9.75%. The other federal states clearly stand out once more – Vienna’s population has 34.13% of citizens of foreign origin altogether.  The Austrian average is 17.61%. For non-EU/EFTA citizens Carinthia lies once more in last but one place with 5.44% above Burgenland. Concerning the breakdown of foreigners, EU/EFTA citizens predominate with regard to origin.

Within Carinthia the areas of Villach town (13.06%) and Klagenfurt town (11.09%) show the a highest percentage of foreigners by a long way (Figure 8). After EU/EFTA citizens are subtracted this is 8.37% for Villach and 7.04% for Klagenfurt.

With respect to origin, Villach town (18.44%) and Klagenfurt town (17.27%) are also clearly in front. Here there are 11.35% third-country nationals in Villach and 10.51% in Klagenfurt. However, in most areas EU/EFTA citizens predominate.


Sources: Fig. 6-8: Statistik Austria – Migramaps.

Residency status / Asylum

A small percentage of people from third countries is currently in the process of a routine asylum procedure (asylum seekers) - at the beginning of 2012 this was 4% of third-country nationals in the whole of Austria (Figure 10). These are not explicitly shown in the public population statistics (see above). A breakdown according to federal state is not available either.

When the period 2001 – 2011 is examined (Figure 11), a downward trend in applications for asylum is evident, which Statistik Austria attributes to the mid and Eastern European states joining the  EU in the years 2004 and 2007. The number of positive procedures in the reference period remains relatively constant, especially from 2004 onwards. In 2011 21% of asylum procedures were legally approved (Figure 12), 67% negatively rated and 12% were suspended. The negative rulings therefore clearly predominate.

According to Kreissl (2012), only Vienna and Lower Austria are observing their asylum obligations.


Sources: Statistik Austria: Migration & Integration. Figures. Data. Indicators. Vienna: 2012, p. 36-39 | Fig. 10: Ibid.,  p. 39 |

Figure 11-12: Ibid., page 37. | Kreissl, Reinhard (2012): Falscher Alarm in Traiskirchen ( False alarm in Traiskirchen). In: derstandard.at, 17.10.2012,

URL: derstandard.at/1350258641383/Falscher-Alarm-in-Traiskirchen - 17.10.2012.

Demographic forecast – a need for immigration in Carinthia

According to the current demographic forecast 2012 (main model) of Statistik Austria from now (2012) to 2075, Austria will increase from just under 8.5 million to more than 9.4 million people (Figure 13). This is most notably a result of Austria’s positive migration balance, although this will decline by 2075. Correspondingly, boosted by an anticipated negative birth rate from 2026 onwards, population growth will also decline. Immigration will however be able to compensate for the negative birth rate until 2075 and deal with a positive total change, although this still only means a increase of 1,954 people or 0.2%. Without its foreign population Austria would have reported a consistently negative birth rate since 19951

Carinthia is the only federal state that does not show a positive total progression (Figure 14). The population of Carinthia will therefore shrink from about 557,000 now (2012) to just over 495,000 people in 2075. Moreover, Carinthia already has a clearly negative birth rate and with a strikingly negative domestic migration balance only achieves a slightly positive net migration. This results in a negative total change, which according to the forecast will increase further by the 2050’s, then decline again. The increase and subsequent downward tendency show up as ups and downs in the birth rate with a simultaneous positive domestic migration balance from 2051. All this also results in an average age above the  Austrian average.

Migration is therefore the driving force behind Austrian population growth and curbs the increase of the average age.


Sources: Statistik Austria: Bevölkerungsprognose 2012. Hauptvariante (Demographic forecast 2012. Main model). | Fig. 13-15: Ibid. | 1 Statistik Austria: Bevölkerungsveränderung seit 1981 nach Staatsangehörigkeit (Population change since 1981 according to nationality).

Language and education according to migration background

A basic requirement for successful education is mastering the language of instruction. Figure 16 shows that children with non-German colloquial language in Austria clearly need extra linguistic support (for German) more frequently than children with German colloquial language, although this can be affected by early educational measures (going to a playgroup). Insufficient knowledge of German at the time of school enrolment can lead to children having to begin their education at a special school.
When Carinthia is considered in comparison with Austria (Figure 17) it becomes apparent that the proportion of pupils with non-German conversational language in Carinthian schools is considerably smaller than the Austrian average. This ought to correlate with the comparatively small proportion of people of foreign origin.

In the Migration & Integration 2012 annual report, Statistik Austria points out that people with a migration background have a distinctly different education profile to people without a migration background (Figure18). People with a migration background show very low and very high educational achievements disproportionately frequently in comparison with the average, wheras in the family line there is a consistency. The unequal distribution of educational achievements according to country of origin is striking.


Sources: Statistik Austria: Migration & Integration. Figures. Data. Indicators 2012. Vienna: 2012, p. 42 – 49 | Fig. 16: Ibid.,  p. 43 |Fig. 18: Ibid., p. 49. | Österreichischer Integrationsfonds ( Austrian Integration Fund):Migration &Integration in den Bundesländern.Zahlen.Daten.Inkikatoren 2011( Migration & Integration in the Federal States. Figures. Data. Indicators 2011). Vienna: 2011, p.16. | Fig. 17: Ibid. (translated).

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