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Demographics of Germany

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Demographics of Germany

Demographics of Germany
Population from 1800 to 2010. The figures of the FRG and the GDR are combined.[1]
Population 80,767,000 (31 December 2013)
Growth rate +0.28 (2014)
Birth rate 8.42 births/1,000 population (2014)
Death rate 11.29 deaths/1,000 population (2014)
Life expectancy 80.44 years (2014)
 • male 78.15 years
 • female 82.86 years
Fertility rate 1.43 children born/woman (2014)
Infant mortality rate 3.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2014)
Net migration rate 1.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014)
Age structure
0–14 years 13.1% (10,590,723)
15–64 years 66.1% (53,604,102)
65 and over 20.9% (16,952,440) (2013)
Sex ratio
Total 0.97 male(s)/female (2013)
At birth 1.06 male(s)/female
Under 15 1.05 male(s)/female
15–64 years 1.02 male(s)/female
65 and over 0.76 male(s)/female
Nationality noun: German(s) adjective: German
Major ethnic Germans
Spoken German, others

The demography of Germany is monitored by the "Statistisches Bundesamt" (Federal Statistical Office of Germany). According to the first census since the reunification, Germany's population was counted to be 80,219,695 on May 9, 2011,[2] making it the 16th most populous country in the world. Germany's population is characterized by zero or declining growth,[3] with an ageing population and smaller cohort of youths. The total fertility rate has been rated around 1.4 in 2010[4][5] (the highest value since 1990[4]) and has recently even been estimated at 1.6 after accounting for the fact that older women contribute more to the number of births than in previous statistic models, and total fertility rates increased in younger generations.[6] Fertility was closely linked to educational achievement (with the less educated women having more children than the educated ones).[7] Persons who adhere to no religion have fewer children than Christians, and studies also found that among Christians the more conservative ones had more children than the more liberal ones.[8][9] In vitro fertilisation is legal in Germany, with an age limit set at 40.[10]

The United Nations Population Fund lists Germany as host to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide.[11] More than 16 million people are of foreign/immigrant descent (first and second generation, including mixed heritage and ethnic German repatriates and their descendants). 96.1% of those reside in western Germany and Berlin.[12] About seven million of them are foreign residents, which is defined as those not having German citizenship. The largest ethnic group of non-German origin are the Turkish. Since the 1960s, West and later reunified Germany has been attracting migrants primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe as well as Turkey, many of whom (or their children) over time acquired German citizenship. While most of these migrations had an economic background, Germany has also been a prime destination for refugees from many developing countries, in part because its constitution long had a clause giving a 'right' to political asylum, but restrictions over the years have since made it less attractive.

Germany has one of the world's highest levels of education, technological development, and economic productivity. Since the end of World War II, the number of students entering universities has more than tripled, and the trade and technical schools are among the world's best. With a per capita PPP income of about $41,370 (compared to $50,619 purchasing power parity per capita income in the USA) in 2012,[5] Germany is a broadly middle class society. However there has been a strong increase in the number of children living in poverty. Whereas in 1965 one in 75 children was on the welfare rolls, in 2007 one child in 6 was – although it should be noted that these children live in relative poverty, but not necessarily in absolute poverty.[13] Germans also are very mobile; millions travel abroad each year. The social welfare system provides for universal health care, unemployment compensation, child benefits and other social programmes. Due to Germany's aging population and struggling economy, the welfare system came under a lot of strain in the 1990s. This led the government to adopt a wide-ranging programme of belt-tightening reforms, Agenda 2010, including the labour market reforms known as Hartz I - IV.


The contemporary demographics of Germany are also measured by a series of full censuses, with the most recent held in 1987. Since reunification, German authorities rely on a micro census.

Statistics since 1900

Population statistics since 1900.[14] Territorial changes of Germany occurred in 1918/1919, 1921/1922 and 1945/1946.

Fertility is not shown before 1950. Notable features before that time are fertility being extremely low during the ending years of the Weimar Republic, when it dropped down to about 1.1 child per woman in 1933.

Population of Germany by аge and sex (demographic pyramid) as of June, 16, 1933
Population of then-Germany (with Austria) by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on May, 17, 1939
Population of then-Germany (without Saar) by аge and sex (demographic pyramid) as on October, 29, 1946. Many former German soldiers didn't participate
Population of Germany by аge and sex (demographic pyramid) as of December, 31, 1950


Medical students and their triplets in the GDR in 1984; the GDR encouraged birth among college students

After the World War II border shifts and expulsions, the Germans from Central and Eastern Europe and the former eastern territories moved westward to post-war Germany. During the partition of Germany, many Germans from East Germany fled to West Germany for political and also economic reasons. Since Germany's reunification, there are ongoing migrations from the eastern New Länder to the western Old Länder for economic reasons.

The federal republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic followed different paths when it came to demographics. The politics of ther German Democratic Republic was pronatalistic[16] while that of the Federal Republic was compensatory. Some even hold the opinion that the politics of the GDR resembled that of the Nazi regime when it comes to demographics[17]

Fertility in the GDR was higher than that in the FRG. Demographic politics was only one of the reasons. Women in the GDR had less "biographic options", young motherhood was expected of them. State funded costfree childcare was available to all mothers.[18]


About 1.7 million people have left the new federal states since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or 12% of the population,[19] a disproportionately high number of them were women under 35.[20]

After 1990, the total fertility rate (TFR) in the East dropped to 0.772 in 1994. This has been attributed to the fact that there was a "demographic shock" (people not only had less children, they also were lesss likely to marry or divorce after the end of the GDR) the biographic options of the citizens of the former GDR had increased. Young motherhood seemed to be less attractive and the age of the first birth rose sharply.[21]

In the following years, the TFR in the East Germany started rising again, surpassing 1.0 in 1997 and 1.3 in 2004, reaching the West's TFR in 2007 (1.37). In 2010, the East's fertility rate (1.459) clearly exceeded that of the West (1.385), while Germany's overall TFR has risen to 1.393, the highest value since 1990[4][22] - which is still far below the natural replacement rate of 2.1 and the birth rates seen under communism. In the 2012 the TFR of East Germany was 1.454, while TFR in the West was only 1.371.[15]

Since 1989, about 2,000 schools have closed because of a scarcity of children.[19]

In some regions the number of women between the ages of 20 and 30 has dropped by more than 30%.[19] In 2004, in the age group 18-29 (statistically important for starting families) there were only 90 women for every 100 men in the new federal states (including Berlin).

Until 2007 family politics in the federal republic was compensatory, which means that poor families received more family benefits (such as the Erziehungsgeld) than rich ones. In 2007 the so-called "Elterngeld" was introduced. According to Christoph Butterwege the Elterngeld was meant to "motivate highly educated women to have more children", the poor one the other hand were disadvantaged by the Elterngeld, receiving now less child benefits than the middle classes.[23] The very well-off (who earn more than 250.000 Euro per annum) and those on welfare receive no Elterngeld payments.[24]

In 2013 the following most recent developments were noticed:[25]

  • The income of families having young children has risen. Persons holding a college degree, persons older than 30 years and parents of only children benefitted the most. Single parents and young parents did not benefit
  • Fathers are becoming more involved in parenting. 28% of them now take some time off their jobs (3,3 months on average) when their children are born.
  • Mothers are more likely to work and as a result less likely to be econnomically deprived than they used to
  • The birth rate of college educated women has risen


With an estimated more than 81.8 million inhabitants in late 2011,[26] Germany is the most populous country in the European Union and ranks as the 16th largest country in the world in terms of population. Its population density stands at 229.4 inhabitants per square kilometer.


Germany comprises sixteen states that are collectively referred to as Länder.[27] Due to differences in size and population the subdivision of these states varies, especially between city states (Stadtstaaten) and states with larger territories (Flächenländer). For regional administrative purposes five states, namely Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, consist of a total of 22 Government Districts (Regierungsbezirke). As of 2009 Germany is divided into 403 districts (Kreise) on municipal level, these consist of 301 rural districts and 102 urban districts.[28]

State Capital Area (km²) Population[29]
(Dec. 31, 2012)
Population density
Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart 35,751 10,569,111 296
Bavaria Munich 70,550 12,519,571 177
Berlin Berlin 892 3,375,222 3,785
Brandenburg Potsdam 29,486 2,449,511 83
Bremen Bremen 419 654,774 1,562
Hamburg Hamburg 755 1,734,272 2,296
Hesse Wiesbaden 21,115 6,016,481 285
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Schwerin 23,211 1,600,327 69
Lower Saxony Hanover 47,614 7,778,995 163
North Rhine-Westphalia Düsseldorf 34,110 17,554,329 515
Rhineland-Palatinate Mainz 19,854 3,990,278 201
Saarland Saarbrücken 2,569 994,287 387
Saxony Dresden 18,420 4,050,204 220
Saxony-Anhalt Magdeburg 20,451 2,259,393 110
Schleswig-Holstein Kiel 15,800 2,806,531 178
Thuringia Erfurt 16,172 2,170,460 134
Germany Berlin 357,168 80,523,746 225


Munich (München)
Rank City Federal-State Population

Cologne (Köln)
Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main

1 Berlin Berlin 3,439,100
2 Hamburg Hamburg 1,769,117
3 Munich Bavaria 1,330,440
4 Cologne North Rhine-Westphalia 1,017,155
5 Frankfurt am Main Hesse 671,927
6 Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg 600,068
7 Düsseldorf North Rhine-Westphalia 586,217
8 Dortmund North Rhine-Westphalia 581,308
9 Essen North Rhine-Westphalia 576,259
10 Bremen Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 547,685
11 Hanover Lower Saxony 520,966
12 Leipzig Saxony 518,862
13 Dresden Saxony 517,052
14 Nuremberg Bavaria 503,673
15 Duisburg North Rhine-Westphalia 491,931
Destatis (2009)[30]

Metropolitan regions

Germany officially has eleven metropolitan regions. In 2005, Germany had 82 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

City name Location Description Population (2004) Largest German ethnic groups Largest non-German ethnic groups
Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region Cologne is the largest city of the Rhineland, the very Western part of Germany. Particularly among young Germans, Cologne and Düsseldorf are known for their nightlife and open-minded atmosphere. 11.7 mil Rhinelanders, Westfalians and others Turks, Italians, Dutch, Poles, French, Arabs, Iranians, South Asians like Indians, and Japanese (large Japanese community in Düsseldorf).
Frankfurt Rhine-Main Region Frankfurt is the economic and financial center both for Germany and the continental European Union. It boasts a large airport and numerous skyscrapers. Within Germany, the city has a reputation of being very business-oriented, perhaps at the expense of other pursuits. 5.8 mil Hessians and others Turks, Italians, Dutch, Arabs, Iranians, Bosnians, Greeks, Russians, Israelis, Koreans, Afghans, and Pakistanis (mostly Pashtun & Panjabi ethnic groups).
Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region Berlin is the capital of Germany and its largest city. Berlin lies in the eastern part of the country and is regarded as one of Europe's most vibrant and ever changing capitals. It is also the 3rd most visited city in Europe. Additionally, it is Germany's most ethnically and culturally diverse city. 4.9 mil Berliners, Prussians, Swabians, Bavarians etc. Turks, Arabs, Bosnians, Poles, Russians, Albanians, Serbs, Kurds, Vietnamese, Israelis, Chinese, rising number of Africans, Chileans, Brazilians Puerto Ricans and other Latin Americans.
Munich Metropolitan Region Munich has Germany's highest standard of living. Countless sporting and leisure opportunities - both in the city and in its picturesque region. Munich is a powerhouse of the German economy and rich in Bavarian culture. 4.7 mil Bavarians, Franconians and others Turks, Croats, Serbs, Dutch, Afghans, Greeks, Albanians, Macedonians, Italians, Bosnians, Hungarians, Spaniards and Romanians.
Hamburg Metropolitan Region Hamburg is a free city state and the second largest city in Germany. It has a long tradition for sea trade and civil establishment and is home to Europe's 2nd largest port. The city is proud of its diverse nightlife and music scene centered in and around the famous St. Pauli district. According to European Union Statistics (EUROSTAT) it is Germany's richest city. 4.3 mil Hamburgers, Schleswiger, Holsteiner, Lower Saxons and others Turks, Russians, Albanians, Dutch, Poles, Pakistanis, Iranians, Macedonians, Chinese, Portuguese, Afghans, Africans
Southern Lower Saxony: Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region The relatively urban south of Lower Saxony, located on route between the Ruhr area and Berlin, and the route form Hamburg to the south, has been important for logistics, industry, but also developed a strong standing in the service industries. 3.9 mil Lower Saxons, Eastphalians and others Turks, Kurds (especially around Celle), Serbs, Ukrainians, Greeks, Russians, Italians (especially in Wolfsburg) and Spanish (Especially in Hanover).
Leipzig-Halle-Dresden (Saxon Triangle) Also dubbed "City of Heroes", Leipzig is where the 1989 revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall started. Today totally refurbished, it sports Europe's highest density of Art Nouveau architecture. Very lively bar scene, fastest growing economy in Germany. 3.5 mil Upper Saxons and others Vietnamese, Indians, Russians, Portuguese, Italians, Poles, Iranians, Turks, Dutch, Arabs and Pakistanis.
Stuttgart Metropolitan Region Stuttgart has a reputation for research, inventions and industry. The German headquarters of many international enterprises are in Stuttgart. This contrasts with the strong rural, down-to-earth attitude of the Stuttgarters throughout the classes. A popular slogan is "We are good at everything. Except speaking High (standard) German." 3.5 mil Swabians and others Turks, Greeks, Dutch, Kittians, Italians, Croats, Serbs, French, Chinese, Romanians, Americans and Spaniards.
Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region Located in the northwestern part of Germany, the main axis contains the cities of Bremen, Delmenhorst and Oldenburg, with the cities of Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven being the northern corners at the north sea. Major rural areas are covered in between these cities. There is a smooth transition to the Hamburg metropolitan area to the east. 2.4 mil Lower Saxons, Frisians and others Turks, Russians, Albanians, Serbs, Portuguese, Iranians, Dutch, Americans and Britons.


Map of population density in Germany in 2006.

Demographic statistics according to the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.


80,800,000 (2014 est.)

Germany's population pyramid in 2005
Age structure
  • 0–14 years: 13.9% (male 5,894,724/female 5,590,373)
  • 15–64 years: 66.3% (male 27,811,357/female 26,790,222)
  • 65 years and over: 19.8% (male 6,771,972/female 9,542,348) (2007 est.)
  • 0–14 years: 13.7% (male 5,768,366/female 5,470,516)
  • 15–64 years: 66.1% (male 27,707,761/female 26,676,759)
  • 65 years and over: 20.3% (male 7,004,805/female 9,701,551) (2010 est.)
  • 0–14 years: 13.1%
  • 15–64 years: 66%
  • 65 years and over: 20.9% (2013 est.)
Sex ratio
  • at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
  • under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
  • 15–64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
  • 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
  • total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Change of population by districts between 2007 and 2009, highlighting the continued depopulation of the former East Germany and the growth of German suburbia
Infant mortality rate

4.09 deaths per 1,000 live births (2007)

total: 3.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2010)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.26 years (2010)

80.3 (2013)
Total fertility rate

1.38 children born/woman (2008)

1.42 children born/woman (2010 est.)

While most child-births in Germany happen within marriage, a growing number of children are born out-of-wedlock. In 2010 the out-of-wedlock-rate was 33%, more than twice of what it was in 1990.[31]

The Mikrozensus done in 2008 revealed that the number of children a German woman aged 40 to 75 had, was closely linked to her educational achievement.[7] In Western Germany the most educated women were the most likely to be childless. 26% of those groups stated they were childless, while only 16% of those having an intermediate education, and 11% of those having compulsory education stated the same. In Eastern Germany however, only 9% of the most educated women of that age group and only 7% of those who had an intermediary education were childless, while 12% of those having only compulsory education were childless.

The reason for that east-western difference is the fact that the GDR had an "educated mother scheme" and actively tried to encourage first births among the more educated. It did so by propagandizing the opinion that every educated woman should "present at least one child to socialism" and also by financially rewarding its more educated citizen to become parents. The government especially tried to persuade students to become parents while still in college and it was quite successful in doing so. In 1986 38% of all women, who were about to graduate from college, were mothers of at least one child and additional 14% were pregnant and 43% of all men, who were about to graduate from college, were fathers of at least one child. There was a sharp decline in the birth rate and especially in the birth rate of the educated after the fall of the Berlin wall. Nowadays only 5% of those about to graduate from college are parents.

The more educated a Western German mother aged 40 to 75 is, the less likely she is to have a big family.

Percent of Western German mothers having 1, 2 and 3 or more children by educational attainment
number of children compulsory education intermediary education highest education
one child 22 30 31
two children 39 48 48
three or more children 39 22 21

The same is true for a mother living in Eastern Germany.

Percent of Eastern German mothers having 1, 2 and 3 and more children by educational attainment
number of children compulsory education intermediary education highest education
one child 23 33 33
two children 37 46 51
three or more children 40 21 16

A study done in the western German State of Nordrhein-Westfalen by the HDZ revealed that childlessness was especially widespread among scientists. It showed that 78% of the female scientists and 71% of the male scientists working in that State were childless.[33]

Migrant background and foreign nationality

Germany is home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide,[11] around 20% of Germany's population do not hold a German passport or are descendents of immigrants.

Foreign nationals in Germany

As of 2013, the numbers of selected groups of resident foreign nationals in Germany were as follows:
Rank Nationality Population (2013)
1  Turkey 1,549,808
2  Poland 609,855
3  Italy 552,943
4  Greece 316,331
5  Romania 267,398
6  Serbia 241,374[note 1]
7  Croatia 240,543
8  Russia 216,291
  1. ^ 205,043 and 36,331 still State Union of Serbia and Montenegro

Migrant background

Simone Hauswald is classified as having a "migrant background" because one of her parents is an immigrant.

The Federal Statistical Office defines persons with a migrant background as all persons who migrated to the present area of the Federal Republic of Germany after 1949, plus all foreign nationals born in Germany and all persons born in Germany as German nationals with at least one parent who migrated to Germany or was born in Germany as a foreign national. The figures presented here are based on this definition, not on any definition of ethnicity.

Total population = 80.2 million[34]

In 2010, 2.3 million families with children under 18 years were living in Germany, in which at least one parent had foreign roots. They represented 29% of the total of 8.1 million families with minor children. Compared with 2005 – the year when the microcensus started to collect detailed information on the population with a migrant background – the proportion of migrant families has risen by 2 percentage points.[36]

Most of the families with a migrant background live in the western part of Germany. In 2010, the proportion of migrant families in all families was 32% in the former territory of the Federal Republic. This figure was more than double that in the new Länder (incl. Berlin) where it stood at 15%.[36]

Families with a migrant background more often have three or more minor children in the household than families without a migrant background. In 2010, about 15% of the families with a migrant background contained three or more minor children, as compared with just 9% of the families without a migrant background.[36]

In 2009, 3.0 million of the persons of immigrant background had Turkish roots, 2.9 million had their roots in the successor states of the Soviet Union (including a large number of Russian-speaking ethnic Germans), 1.5 million had their roots in the successor states of Yugoslavia and 1.5 million had Polish roots.[37]

In 2008, 18.4% of Germans of any age group and 30% of German children had at least one parent born abroad. Median age for Germans with at least one parent born abroad was 33.8 years, while that for Germans, who had two parents born in Germany was 44.6 years.[38]

In 2012, 80% of Germans had no migration background, a further 4% were ethnic German immigrants (from countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Romania). In total, 91.6% of the population is of European background, excluding Turkey (including ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan but excluding ethnic Europeans from other parts of the world, such as the USA). 3.7% of the population had a Turkish background.[39]:pp. 230–231

Germany is home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide.[40]

Migrant background in Germany

  Ethnic Germans (80.0%)
  Europe (excluding Turkey) (11.6%)
  Turkey (3.7%)
  Asians (including Middle East, excluding Turkey) (1.7%)
  Africans (0.7%)
  America (0.5%)
  Others/unspecified (1.8%)
As of 2012, the population with a migrant background was as follows:[39]:pp. 230–231
Population background % Population[39]
European 91.6 75,033,000
European Union 86.8 71,105,000
     Ethnic German 80.0 65,570,000
     Polish 1.9 1,543,000
     Other EU member states (primarily Italian, Romanian, Greek and Spanish) 4.9 3,992,000
European Other 4.8 3,928,000
     Russian (including Russian Germans) 1.5 1,213,000
     Others (primarily Kazakh German and former Yugoslavian, excluding Croatia and Slovenia) 3.3 2,715,000
Middle Eastern 4.5 3,719,000
     Turkish 3.7 2,998,000
     Others (primarily Arabic and Iranian) 0.8 721,000
East/Southeast Asian 0.9 778,000
African 0.7 577,000
North/Central/South American 0.5 416,000
Other background (primarily Australian and Oceanic) 0.3 246,000
Mixed or unspecified background 1.5 1,208,000
Total population 100 81,913,000

Four other sizable groups of people are referred to as "national minorities" (nationale Minderheiten) because they have lived in their respective regions for centuries: Danes, Frisians, Roma and Sinti, and Sorbs. There is a Danish minority (about 50,000, according to government sources) in the northern-most state of Schleswig-Holstein. Eastern and Northern Frisians live at Schleswig-Holstein's western coast, and in the north-western part of Lower Saxony. They are part of a wider community (Frisia) stretching from Germany to the northern Netherlands. The Sorbs, a Slavic people with about 60,000 members (according to government sources), are in the Lusatia region of Saxony and Brandenburg. They are the last remnants of the Slavs that lived in central and eastern Germany since the 7th century to have kept their traditions and not been completely integrated into the wider German nation.

Until Association of National Minorities in Germany. Some of the union members wanted the Polish communities in easternmost Germany (now Poland) to join the newly established Polish nation after World War I. Even before the German invasion of Poland, leading anti-Nazi members of the Polish minority were deported to concentration camps; some were executed at the Piaśnica murder site. Minority rights for Poles in Germany were revoked by Hermann Göring's World War II decree of 27 February 1940, and their property was confiscated.

After the war ended, the German government did not re-implement national minority rights for ethnic Poles. The reason for this is that the areas of Germany which formerly had a native Polish minority were annexed to Poland and the Soviet Union, while almost all of the native German populations (formerly the ethnic majority) in these areas subsequently fled or were expelled by force. With the mixed German-Polish territories now lost, the German government subsequently regarded ethnic Poles residing in what remained of Germany as immigrants, just like any other ethnic population with a recent history of arrival. In contrast, Germans living in Poland are recognized as national minority and have granted seats in Polish Parliament.[41][42] It must be said, however, that an overwhelming amount of Germans in Poland have centuries-old historical ties to the lands they now inhabit, whether from living in territory that once belonged to the German state, or from centuries-old communities. In contrast, most Poles in present-day Germany are recent immigrants, though there are some communities which have been present since the 19th and perhaps even the 18th centuries. Despite protests by some in the older Polish-German communities, and despite Germany being now a signatory to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Germany has so far refused to re-implement minority rights for ethnic Poles, based on the fact that almost all areas of historically mixed German-Polish heritage (where the minority rights formerly existed) are no longer part of Germany and because the vast majority of ethnic Poles now residing in Germany are recent immigrants.

Roma people have been in Germany since the Middle Ages. They were persecuted by the Nazis, and thousands of Roma living in Germany were killed by the Nazi regime. Nowadays, they are spread all over Germany, mostly living in major cities. It is difficult to estimate their exact number, as the German government counts them as "persons without migrant background" in their statistics. There are also many assimilated Sinti and Roma. A vague figure given by the German Department of the Interior is about 70,000. In the late 1990s, many Roma moved to Germany from Kosovo. In contrast to the old-established Roma population, the majority of them do not have German citizenship, they are classified as immigrants or refugees.

A family of so-called "Spätaussiedler" (repatriates of ethnic German origin), because the parents were born abroad they will be counted as "persons with immigrant background"

After World War II, 14 million ethnic Germans were expelled from the eastern territories of Germany and homelands outside former German Empire. The accommodation and integration of these Heimatvertriebene in the remaining part of Germany, in which many cities and millions of apartments had been destroyed, was a major effort in the post-war occupation zones and later states of Germany.

Since the 1960s, ethnic Germans from the People's Republic of Poland and Soviet Union (especially from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine), have come to Germany. During the time of Perestroika, and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the number of immigrants increased heavily. Some of these immigrants are of mixed ancestry. During the 10-year period between 1987 and 2001, a total of 1,981,732 ethnic Germans from the FSU immigrated to Germany, along with more than a million of their non-German relatives. After 1997, however Ethnic Slavs or those belonging to Slavic-Germanic mixed origins outnumbered these with only Germanic descent amongst the immigrants. The total number of people currently living in Germany having FSU connection is around 4 to 4.5 million (Including Germans, Slavs, Jews and those of mixed origins), out of that more than 50% is of German descent.[43][44]

Germany now has Europe's third-largest Jewish population. In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total inflow to more than 100,000 since 1991.[45] Jews have a voice in German public life through the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland). Some Jews from the former Soviet Union are of mixed heritage.

Turkish parade in Berlin
A guest worker from Cuba, 1986

In 2000 there were also around 300,000-500,000 Afro-Germans (those who have German citizenship)[46] and 150,000+ African nationals. Most of them live in Berlin and Hamburg. Numerous persons from Tunisia and Morocco live in Germany, which in most cases do not considers themselves "Afro-Germans" and are not considered "Afro-Germans" by the German public despite the fact they come from Northern Africa, because they are not Black African looking. However, Germany does not keep any statistics regarding ethnicity or race. Hence, the exact number of Blacks or Afro-Germans in particular, is unknown.

Germany's biggest East Asian minority are the Vietnamese people in Germany. About 40,000 Vietnamese live in Berlin and surroundings. Also there are about 20,000 to 25,000 Japanese people residing in Germany. Some South Asian and Southeast Asian immigration has took place. Nearly 50,000 Indians live in Germany. As of 2008, there were 68,000 Filipino residents and an unknown number of Indonesians residing in Germany.[47]

Numerous descendants of the so-called Gastarbeiter live in Germany. The Gastarbeiter mostly came from Chile, Greece, Southern Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. Also included were Vietnam, Mongolia, North Korea, Angola, Mozambique and Cuba when the former East Germany existed until reunification in 1990.[48] The (socialist) German democratic republic (East Germany) however had their guest-worker stay in single sex dormitories[49] Female guest workers had to sign treaties saying that they were not allowed to fall pregnant during their stay in. If they fell pregnant nevertheless they faced forced abortion or deportion.[50] This is one of the reasons why the vast majority of ethnic minorities today lives in western Germany and also one of the reasons why minorities such as the Vietnamese have the most unusual population pyramid, with nearly all second generation Vietnamese Germans born after 1989.


The most common male haplogroup among Germans is Haplogroup R1b, followed by Haplogroup I1, and Haplogroup R1a.[51]


In its State of World Population 2006 report, the United Nations Population Fund lists Germany with hosting the third-highest percentage of the main international migrants worldwide, about 5% or 10 million of all 191 million migrants.[52]

Germany had previously signed special visa agreements with several countries in times of severe labour shortages or when particular skills were deficient within the country. During the 60s & 70s, agreements were signed with the governments of Turkey, Yugoslavia and Spain to help Germany overcome its severe labour shortage.

Currently, as of 2012, the largest sources of net immigration to Germany are other European countries, most importantly Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Greece; notably, in the case of Turkey, German Turks moving to Turkey slightly outnumber new immigrants.[53]


Cadets of the German Navy exercising in front of one of the gyms of Germany's naval officers school, the Marineschule Mürwik.

Responsibility for educational oversight in Germany lies primarily with the individual federated states. Since the 1960s, a reform movement has attempted to unify secondary education into a Gesamtschule (comprehensive school); several West German states later simplified their school systems to two or three tiers. A system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung ("dual education") allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run vocational school.[54]

Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for at least nine years. Primary education usually lasts for four years and public schools are not stratified at this stage.[54] In contrast, secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different levels of academic ability: the Gymnasium enrols the most academically promising children and prepares students for university studies; the Realschule for intermediate students lasts six years; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education.[55]

In addition Germany has a comprehensive school known as the Gesamtschule. While some German schools such as the Gymnasium and the Realschule have rather strict entrance requirements, the Gesamtschule does not have such requirements. They offer college preparatory classes for the students who are doing well, general education classes for average students, and remedial courses for those who aren't doing that well. In most cases students attending a Gesamtschule may graduate with the Hauptschulabschluss, the Realschulabschluss or the Abitur depending on how well they did in school. The percentage of students attending a Gesamtschule varies by Bundesland. In 2007 the State of Brandenburg more than 50% of all students attended a Gesamtschule,[56] while in the State of Bavaria less than 1% did.

The general entrance requirement for university is Abitur, a qualification normally based on continuous assessment during the last few years at school and final examinations; however there are a number of exceptions, and precise requirements vary, depending on the state, the university and the subject. Germany's universities are recognised internationally; in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) for 2008, six of the top 100 universities in the world are in Germany, and 18 of the top 200.[57] Nearly all German universities are public institutions, charging tuition fees of €50–500 per semester for each student.[58]

Percentage of jobholders holding Hauptschulabschluss, Realschulabschluss or Abitur in Germany[59]

1970 1982 1991 2000
Hauptschulabschluss 87,7% 79,3% 66,5% 54,9%
Realschulabschluss 10,9% 17,7% 27% 34,1%
Abitur 1,4% 3% 6,5% 11%


Over 99% of those of age 15 and above are estimated to be able to read and write. However, a growing number of inhabitants are functionally illiterate. The young are much more likely to be functionally illiterate than the old. According to a study done by the University of Bremen in coorporation with the "Bundesverband Alphabetisierung e.V.", 10% of youngsters living in Germany are functionally illiterate and one quarter are able to understand only basic level texts.[60] Illiteracy rates of youngsters vary by ethnic group and parents' socioeconomic class.


As of 2009, the principal cause of death was cardiovascular disease, at 42%, followed by malignant tumours, at 25%.[61] As of 2008, about 82,000 Germans had been infected with HIV/AIDS and 26,000 had died from the disease (cumulatively, since 1982).[62] According to a 2005 survey, 27% of German adults are smokers.[62] A 2009 study shows Germany is near the median in terms of overweight and obese people in Europe.[63]


The national constitutions of 1919 and 1949 guarantee freedom of faith and religion; earlier, these freedoms were mentioned only in state constitutions. The modern constitution of 1949 also states that no one may be discriminated against due to their faith or religious opinions. A state church does not exist in Germany (see Freedom of religion in Germany).[64]

2008 map of Christian denominations in the states of Germany[65][66][67]}: Majority of population is:
  member of the Roman Catholic church
  member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)
  either member of the Roman Catholic church or the EKD with EKD the largest
  either member of the Roman Catholic church or the EKD with Roman Catholic being the largest denomination
  mainly not religious, largest Christian minority is EKD

According to organizational reportings based on projections in 2008 about 34.1% Germans have no registered religious denomination. According to a poll by Der Spiegel magazine, 45% believe in God, and just a quarter in Jesus Christ.[68]

Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with around 49.4 million adherents (62.8%) in 2008[69] of which 24 million are Protestants (29.3%) belonging to the Protestant churches and 23.9 million are Catholics (29.2%) in 2010,[70] the remainder belong to small denominations (each considerably less than 0.5% of the German population).[71] The second largest religion is Islam with an estimated 3.8 to 4.3 million adherents (4.6 to 5.2%)[72] 9.1 of the children born in Germany had Muslim parents in 2005 according to the German statistical office.[73] Those religions are followed by Buddhism and Judaism, both with around 200,000 adherents (0.3%). Hinduism has some 90,000 adherents (0.1%), Sikhism 75,000 (0.1%) and Yazidi religion (45.000-60.000).[74] All other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 (<0.1%) adherents.

Religion in Germany (2008)
No Religion
Roman Catholicism
Orthodox Christianity

Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman Catholicism is concentrated in the south and west. According to the last nationwide census, Protestantism is more widespread among the population with German citizenship; there are slightly more Catholics total because of the Catholic immigrant population (including such groups as Poles and Italians).[75] The former Pope, Benedict XVI, was born in Bavaria. Non-religious people, including atheists and agnostics might make as many as 55%, and are especially numerous in the former East Germany and major metropolitan areas.[76]

Of the roughly 4 million Muslims, most are Sunnis and Alevites from Turkey, but there are a small number of Shi'ites and other denominations.[72][77] 1.6% of the country's overall population declare themselves Orthodox Christians, with Serbs, Greeks, and Ukrainians, Russians being the most numerous.[69] Germany has Europe's third-largest Jewish population (after France and the United Kingdom).[78] In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total Jewish population to more than 200,000, compared to 30,000 prior to German reunification. Large cities with significant Jewish populations include Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.[79] Around 250,000 active Buddhists live in Germany; 50% of them are Asian immigrants.[80]

According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 47% of German citizens agreed with the statement "I believe there is a God", whereas 25% agreed with "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% said "I do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".[81]

2011 Census

According to the 2011 EU-wide census, in which Germany participated:

  • Roman Catholic Church: 24,740,380 or 30.8% of the German population;
  • Evangelical Church: 24,328,100 or 30.3% of the German population;
  • Other, atheist or not specified (including Protestants outside EKD): 31,151,210 or 38.8% of the German population.[75]

Religion (2011 German Census)

  Catholic Church (30.8%)
  EKD (30.3%)
  Other, atheist or unspecified (38.8%)


German is the only official and most widely spoken language. Standard German is understood throughout the country.

Minority languages

Bilingual German-Sorbian city limit signs

Danish, Low German, the Sorbian languages (Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian), and the two Frisian languages, Saterfrisian and North Frisian, are officially recognized and protected as minority languages by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in their respective regions. With speakers of Romany living in all parts of Germany, the federal government has promised to take action to protect the language. Until now, only Hesse has followed Berlin's announcement, and agreed on implementing concrete measures to support Romany speakers.

Implementation of the Charter is poor. The monitoring reports on charter implementation in Germany show many provisions unfulfilled.

Protected Minority Languages in Germany
Language States
Danish Schleswig-Holstein
North Frisian Schleswig-Holstein
Saterland Frisian Lower Saxony
Low German Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia
Upper Sorbian Saxony
Lower Sorbian Brandenburg
Romany Hesse de facto, de jure in all states (see text)

High German dialects

City limits sign; this city is called Emlichheim in High German and Emmelkamp in Low German

German dialects – some quite distinct from the standard language – are used in everyday speech, especially in rural regions. Many dialects, for example the Upper German varieties, are to some degree cultivated as symbols of regional identity and have their own literature, theaters and some TV programming. While speaking a dialect outside its native region might be frowned upon, in their native regions some dialects can be spoken by all social classes. . Nevertheless, partly due to the prevalence of Standard German in media, the use of dialects has declined over the past century, especially in the younger population.

The social status of different German dialects can vary greatly. The Alemannic and Bavarian dialects of the south are positively valued by their speakers and can be used in almost all social circumstances. The Saxonian and Thuringian dialects have less prestige and are subject to derision. While Bavarian and Alemannic have kept much of their distinctiveness, the Middle German dialects, which are closer to Standard German, have lost some of their distinctive lexical and grammatical features and tend to be only pronunciation variants of Standard German.

Low Saxon dialects


Use of Low Saxon is mainly restricted to use among acquaintances, like family members, neighbours and friends. A meeting of a village council can be held almost completely in Low Saxon if all participants know each other (as long as written protocols are written in Standard German), but a single foreigner can make the whole switching to Standard German.

The Low Saxon dialects are different in their status too. There's a north-south gradient in language maintenance. The Southern dialects of Westfalian, Eastfalian and Brandenburgish have had much stronger speaker losses, than the northern coastal dialects of Northern Low Saxon. While Eastfalian has lost speakers to Standard German, Westfalian has lost speakers to Standard German and Standard German based regiolect of the Rhine-Ruhr area. Brandenburgish speakers mostly switched to the Standard German based regiolect of Berlin. Brandenburgish is almost completely replaced by the Berlin regiolect. Northern Low Saxon speakers switched mostly to pure Standard German.

Foreign languages

English is the most common foreign language and almost universally taught by the secondary level; it is also taught at elementary level in some states. Other commonly-taught languages are French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. Dutch is taught in states bordering the Netherlands, and Polish in the eastern states bordering Poland. Latin and Ancient Greek are part of the classical education syllabus offered in many secondary schools.

According to a 2004 survey, two-thirds of Germany's citizens have at least basic knowledge of English. About 20% consider themselves to be speakers of French, followed by speakers of Russian (7%), Italian (6.1%), and Spanish (5.6%). The relatively high number of Russian speakers is a result of massive immigration from the former Soviet Union to Germany for almost 10 consecutive years, plus its having been learned in school by many older former East Germans.

See also


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External links

  • Homepage of the Federal Statistical Office Germany (in English)
  • German demographics in Online-Databank HISTAT (in German, Registration needed)
  • Dossier "The Aging Society" of the Goethe-Institut
  • Demographic Profile Germany: United in Decline Allianz Knowledge
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