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Evelyn Grünheid (2006)

2005 Report on the Demographic Situation in Germany*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 31, 1/2006, p. 3-104, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

At 82.5 million inhabitants, 30,000 fewer people lived in Germany in 2004 than in the previous year. It was already impossible in the second year running for the high excesses of deaths over births to be compensated for by a positive immigration balance. Different situations are observed with regard to this aspect in the old and new Federal Länder: Whilst in Western Germany the positive migration balance clearly exceeds the excesses of deaths over births, so that the population size is rising, it is falling in Eastern Germany, both as a result of excesses of deaths over births and of migration losses. As a result of these processes, ageing is increasing in Germany – a share of 26.2 % of children and adolescents up to the age of 25 compares with a share of 18.6 percent of elderly people aged 65 upwards in 2004; the difference between the population shares of these age groups is even smaller in Eastern Germany, where the shares are 24.2 % (younger) as against 20.2 % (elderly). A shift is however also taking place towards the higher age groups within the age range of the working-age population between 25 and 65.

When it comes to marriages, a rising trend can be recognised for 2004 which appears to continue in 2005. This is an effect both of an increasing number of first marriages, and of an increasing trend to re-marry. Both are however linked to an increasing age on marriage, which is now higher in Eastern Germany than in Western Germany. Here, the tendency to marry is increasing above all among the over-thirties, whilst it is falling in the younger age groups – in particular among men. Almost one marriage in five already includes common children.

Were the divorce situation of 2004 to continue, more than 40 % of marriages would be dissolved after 25 years of marriage, the highest divorce risk applying to marriages after between five and nine years. The tendency towards divorce is however also increasing among those who have been married for longer. Minor children were involved in roughly one divorce in two.

The number of births fell in absolute terms in 2004 on a year-on-year basis. The main cause for this was the change in the age structure among child-bearing-age women. The combined fertility rate – as an expression of fertility conduct – has remained virtually unchanged in Western Germany in recent years, whilst in Eastern Germany this figure has been on the increase once more since the mid-nineties, and at 1.31 is approaching the Western German level of 1.37. Mothers were almost 30 years old on average at the birth of their children, whereas Eastern German mothers are an average of one year younger than their Western German counterparts at this point. A major share of this is accounted for by the large share of nonmarital children (the mothers are younger with nonmarital births than with marital births). The highest values since 1950 were reflected at 22 % of nonmarital births in Western Germany and almost 58 % in Eastern Germany.

The number of abortions in 2004 was roughly at the level of the previous years, but the share of young women under 25 is increasing, particularly in the new Federal Länder, and accounts for almost 40 % of all abortions there. Women who had an abortion induced in 2004 were largely young, single and did not yet have any children.

The mortality rate also continued to fall in 2004. According to the latest life table, new-born boys in Germany have a life expectancy of 75.9 years, whilst new-born girls will reach an average age of 81.5. Hence, the trends of recent years have also continued in 2004: Firstly, a continuous rise in life expectancy for both male and female new-borns, and secondly a reduction in the difference in life expectancy between the sexes. Life expectancy has also further converged between the old and the new Federal Länder. Over and above this, mortality is still lower among the married than among the unmarried, but the differences in this respect have continued to decline – also in connection with the spread of nonmarital partnership-based living arrangements.

The external migration surpluses since 2004 have been at their lowest level since 1998. The migration balance was much lower than in the previous year among both Germans and among foreigners, in fact being only half as high among foreigners. Roughly 6.7 million persons in Germany had a nationality other than German in 2004, making up roughly 8 % of the total population. The immigration of repatriates has fallen continually, reaching a level of 59,100 persons in 2004. Roughly 70 % of external migration from Germany is restricted to other European countries.

When it comes to internal migration, the picture of the typical winners and losers among the Federal Länder as to migration has remained virtually unchanged in recent years – Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria on the one hand stand in contrast to Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on the other. Roughly one-third of those moving away from the new Federal Länder are in the age group of 18 to under-25s; two-thirds of them are women.

With more than 39 million private households, the trend towards increasing numbers of households has continued, whilst the average household size fell further, reaching 2.12 persons per household. More than one household in three is a one-person household, and in Berlin this already is one household in two. An uninterrupted increase is shown by single households above all in the younger age groups, whilst the significance of two-person households is greater in the older age groups. The household structures have further converged in a comparison between Western and Eastern Germany. Pronounced differences however persist when it comes to the average size of German households (2.08 persons) and non-German households (2.57 persons). Having said that, a fall in household size can also be recorded among non-German households.

Despite the increasing significance attaching to one-person households, roughly two-thirds of all over-twenties still live in a partnership, albeit the share of singles in the younger age groups is increasing. The focus as to trends in families and living arrangements in recent years has been on the increase in nonmarital living arrangements with children in Western Germany, and on a rising number of nonmarital living arrangements without children in Eastern Germany. With regard to this aspect, life in nonmarital living arrangements appears to be generally more attractive for young women than for young men, more attractive for Eastern Germans than for Western Germans, and more attractive for the young than for the elderly.

* Original title: Die demographische Lage in Deutschland 2005 (full text in German only)

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