Population movement in Germany

Against the backdrop of the low figures of the birth- and mortality level, population movements become more and more important regarding the population development.

Population movement affects the number of the population as well as the structure, e.g. by age, gender, education and many more. Thereby the reasons for the movement of the people are changing over time.

After the Second World War Germany became an important country of immigration in Europe. During the 1960’s and 1970’s especially through the immigration of so called “immigrant workers”. And after the ban on recruitment in 1973 mainly through family reunion of these workers.  In the 1990’s the flow of migration was minted by resettlers, asylum seekers and refugees. Post millennial and notably in the last years there was a significant increase in immigration of well educated workers.

Migration of foreigners to Germany

The major part of foreigners who immigrate or emigrate to or from Germany have their origin in European countries including Turkey (in 2011 more than 75%). The big increase in 2011 can be narrowed down into two regions:

– On the one hand, eastern countries like Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia, because the free movement of workers from the EU in these countries pertains also on the German labour market. Romania and Bulgaria also loosened their regulations concerning the labour markets since 2011.

– The second group consists of countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, because the population is hit very hard by the economic crisis. They cherish great expectation concerning job opportunities because of the successful economy in Germany.

Furthermore we can notice that the education level of the immigrants has increased steadily.

Migration of Germans

The emigration of the German population was relative minor until the 1990’s excluding the time directly after the Second World War. In the mid-1970’s approximately 50,000 people annually emigrated abroad. This figure increased over time and in 2008 there was a new peak with 175,000 emigrants. Since this time the numbers are slightly declining with 155,000 in 2009 and 141,000 in 2010.

Even the mobility of the German population rose since the 1970’s. This is a consequence of the globalisation. The age of the emigrants in 2009 amounts 31.6 years for women and 34 years for men in average. Compared with the average of the German population (45.4 years for women and 42.3 years for men) the age of the emigrants can be described as rather young.

Approximately two out of three of the Germans are emigrating in European countries, whereas Switzerland had been the most popular country with 22,000 emigrants. Classical immigration countries beyond the European Union are the United States, Canada and Australia.

Migration balance

In current times the Germans are an aging and shrinking population. Due to the fact that the birth rate is further declining, the evolution of the population depends on the migration balance.

In general Germany is characterized through a high migration capacity. Thus, a high number of immigrations is faced with a high number of emigrations. From 1991 to 2010 approximately 14 million people from abroad immigrated to Germany. In the same time roughly 11 million people with a migration background emigrated from Germany. In the last years the numbers of immigrations are more and more declining.

The Federal Office of Statistics predicts an immigration-surplus of approximately 200,000 people annually. However this number amounts only 154.000 in 2010, what demonstrates that this assumption is probably too positive.

The conclusion is that Germany has to take the development of the population serious and should try to influence it by means of an active labour market policy to kept their successful economy.

written by Matthias Lerch, Nicolas Lauer, Timo Bug


5 thoughts on “Population movement in Germany

  1. On the one side we have highly developed European countries like Germany that has ageing population and lack young productive people and on the other side we have European countries like Spain and my home country Slovakia who suffer from high unemployment and it’s mostly youth who can not get themselves employ. I think that everyone can now see the solution that I propose. Germany should support regulated immigration of young and skilled people from these countries to solve the aging problem. Its win win solution for both sides. European Union should cooperate on this problem.

  2. In Germany the current unemployment rate is 7.3% and the youth unemployment rate is 5.9%. That sounds at the first moment that the labour market and the emigrate and immigrate policy in Germany works very well but that are all aggregate figures. As everybody knows the border between West- and East Germany doesn’t exist nowadays but it’s already present. The youth unemployment rate in East Germany is currently 9.7%, only in Berlin 12,3% of all young people are unemployed. So I think there is no need for more foreign workers. The situation in Germany is good now and if we get more foreign workers to help other countries, Germany would harm itself.

  3. It was not so long ago that the German birth rate was one of the highest in Europe. There are no accurate figures for the population of Germany in 2012, as a complete census has not been undertaken since 1987. Of all the 27 European Union states, Germany has the highest percentage of immigrants in its population. Just under 10 million people living in Germany today were born outside of Germany – that’s about 12% of the German population.

    – Kelly, Lauren, Becky

  4. I think that migration is not a problem as German government has developed its migration rules systematically since 1950s. In my opinion, Germany welcomed immigrants after a careful politic process, offered immigrants to adopt themselves in their new environment and in return every next generation with migration background -mostly- get benefit from German education system in a positive way. As a result, I believe that Germany will get benefit in return in the long-run as birth rate does not seem to go higher.

  5. Germany is often a dream working destination of Poles, especially those living on the border. It’s not a surprise – jobs are easier to find and wages are incomparably higher. Therefore skilled workers who cannot or will not find employment in Poland will choose Germany as their country of work. If they live close, they can commute daily. If they move, they assimilate pretty quickly, since language skills are usually required at work. I wouldn’t be surprised if an increased amount of young skilled workerd migrated to inter alia Germany in the process of brain draining – it’s a tempring labour market after all.


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