Fall in German immigration leads to zero population growth

According to the latest data from Germany’s Federal Statistics Office (Destatis), Germany’s population experienced a decline during 2020 – the first time in a decade.

Data indicates that there were 83.2 million people living in Germany during the end of 2020, 40,000 people down from the figure recorded for the end of 2019.The population decline is largely down to a lack of immigration due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten out of sixteen German federal states saw a population decline in the first six months of 2020, as opposed to 2019, when only six German federal states had recorded a population drop.

Destatis said they expect Germany’s population to shrink by around five million people by the end of the century, which is around 78.2 million.

2020 German migration figures show that there were 1.6 million arrivals, 1.2 million departures, with net migration of 327,081. There was very little difference in 2019’s migration figures, with 1,558,612 arrivals, 1,231,552 departures and net migration of 327,060.

Immigration in Germany is key for attracting further skilled workers into the country and, as a result of the low immigration figures experienced last year, the number of skilled foreign workers in Germany has particularly suffered.

Germany is seeing a particular shortage of skilled nurses from outside the EU, as Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) states, “we are not seeing the development we had hoped for, but also not a complete abatement.”

Although Germany’s immigration figures picked up during the second half of 2020, with 4,500 visas issued under the skilled work programme, BAMF still concluded that this was well under their target.

German citizenship

Why didn’t Germany’s population grow in 2020?

Germany’s lower immigration figures and lack of population growth can largely be attributed to COVID-19Travel bans and restrictions have prevented new arrivals from entering the country, as the coronavirus pandemic contributed to rising mortality rates, taking a considerable number of lives during 2020. In total Germany has seen 3.74 million coronavirus cases, which includes 91,268 deaths as of 13th July 2021.

2020 also saw a reduction in the number of births in Germany. The 2020 birth rate in Germany was 9.397 births per 1000 people, which was a 0.09% fall from 2019’s birth rate. The forecast for Germany’s 2021 birth rate is 9.389 births per 1000 people, which will be a 0.09% drop from 2020’s figure.

However, Germany is soon to relax its travel ban for the UK which was enforced during late May 2021 due to the Delta COVID variant. Although Germany is looking to ease travel restrictions, the German government has stated that the Delta variant could account for 80% of COVID cases.

With travel restrictions in the country easing, it’s hoped that Germany will see an uptake in tourist and migrant figures in 2021.

Where do German immigrants come from?

Data from Statista shows that most of Germany’s immigrants come from Romania, followed by Poland, Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey. In 2019, there were 230,096 Romanians living in Germany, 130,689 from Poland, 83,218 from Bulgaria, 62,708 from Italy and 51,610 from Turkey.

Other popular countries of origin include Croatia, India, Hungary, United States and Serbia.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has previously stated that Germany needs to be more open towards skilled professionals coming to live and work in the country, encouraging more to be done about its immigration programme.

As a result, Germany’s government has been looking at ways in which to attract more skilled immigrants, including the possibility of introducing a points-based system similar to ones used in AustraliaCanada and, more recently, the UK.

Forecast for German Immigration in 2021

Research conducted last year by Deutsche Bank stated that Germany’s immigration levels in 2021 would be dependent upon its financial recovery from COVID-19. “The quicker the global economy returns to a growth path, the quicker exports and, in turn, demand for labour will pick up” the report states.

However, the report also indicates that Germany could remain a popular choice for immigration in the long-term due to its healthcare system. The German Medical Association has previously stated that there are ‘considerable bottlenecks’ within Germany’s medical care. The frequent shortage of doctors and nurses has provided a consistent flow of immigrants to Germany, whose skills have helped provide relief to the medical system. However, it is often the language barrier that becomes the biggest hurdle for doctors becoming licensed in Germany.

The report reaffirms the importance of German immigration when it comes to acquiring skilled workers. Given that by 2030, many German workers will have reached retirement age. This development means that immigration will be key in filling the employment gap as there would not be enough young people to cover the demand.

Based on projections from Germany’s Statistical Office, it’s thought that Germany’s population could increase by 300,000 per year, which would lead to population growth of 84 million by the early 2030s before slowing down from 2060. This level of growth would be much welcomed by Germany given its ageing population. Figures indicate that 65 years plus is Germany’s second-largest age bracket, with over 18 million people. The number of elderly German citizens in 2020 rose 4.5% from 2019. The largest age bracket in Germany is 40 – 59 years, with 23.6 million people.

Immigration within Germany is also a key driver in terms of property demand. The past few years have seen a rise in German immigrants moving outside of metropolitan areas, into more rural regions, where property tends to be more affordable. As a result, immigrants will be crucial for contributing to Germany’s property market as well as supporting overall economic growth.

Germany’s economic forecast for 2021

At the beginning of 2021, Germany had intended to end its national coronavirus lockdown on 7th March 2021. However, following a third wave of infections across the Eurozone, lockdown restrictions had to be extended further. It’s currently uncertain as to when the lockdown in Germany will be lifted, with Chancellor Angela Merkel stating that more of the population needed to be vaccinated.

Angela Merkel has backed the tougher restrictions as Germany has seen growing numbers of patients in intensive care. As a result, the lockdown restrictions are likely to weigh on Germany’s economy into Q3 of 2021. It’s thought that Germany’s economy is unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels until at least mid-2022.

Current travel restrictions and economic struggles could mean that Germany’s immigration is likely to suffer once again in the short term, seeing a similar pattern experienced in 2020.

Germany’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank by 5.0% in 2020, though it’s forecast that growth of 3.3% could be possible by the end of 2021.