1.3 million fewer inhabitants by 2040

(14.3.2021) According to the ninth population forecast of the Federal Institute for Building, Urban and Spatial Research (BBSR), the population in Germany will only decrease slightly to 81.9 million people by 2040. Compared to 2020, around 1.3 million fewer people would live in Germany – a significantly smaller decline than previously expected. However, the stability at the national level hides large regional differences:

  • While economically strong cities and their surrounding areas as well as some rural regions continue to grow,
  • the population in structurally weak areas away from the metropolises continues to decrease.

Most of the urban and rural districts with increasing populations are in the old federal states. The strongest population growth – with more than 14% by 2040 – is forecast by the researchers for the Munich suburbs of Dachau, Erding and Ebersberg as well as the urban districts of Landshut and Leipzig. In the old federal states in particular, there are many urban districts in which the number of children and young people will increase by far more than a fifth by 2040 – for example in Regensburg, Munich and Freiburg im Breisgau. This is because the population here is already comparatively young and an above-average number of children are being born. Among all eastern urban and rural districts, Leipzig could show a particularly strong increase in children and young people (+ 25%). Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden, Erfurt, Rostock, Jena and Chemnitz can expect growth of at least 5%.

Average age in Germany in 2040: just under 46 years

On the other hand, numerous structurally weak districts away from the metropolises can lose their population. According to the BBSR forecast, the districts of Salzlandkreis, Greiz, Elbe-Elster, Altenburger Land and Mansfeld-Südharz will lose around a fifth of their population by 2040. According to this forecast, the average age will rise at an above-average rate in regions with sharply declining populations. In 2040 the people in the districts of Elbe-Elster, Spree-Neisse, Greiz and Altenburger Land will be around 52 years old on average. At the other end of the scale are university cities such as Mainz, Münster, Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg and Jena. The average population in these urban districts will be around 42 years old in 2040 as well. According to the calculations of the BBSR, the average age will rise across Germany from 44.3 years (2017) to 45.9 years in 2040.

According to the BBSR forecast, the number of people of retirement age will increase nationwide by 4.1 million (+ 23%) by 2040. Accordingly, their share of the population rises to 26.6%. In 2017 the value was still 21.4%. Numerous Bavarian districts in particular are recording particularly strong growth. This is due to the fact that these regions, which are in the vicinity of Nuremberg or Munich, have an above-average number of people who will reach retirement age in the next few years. In the new federal states, on the other hand, the proportion is hardly growing or is even falling. The reason for this is the already high proportion of the elderly population.

“Our population forecast is an important source of information for a policy that promotes living conditions of equal quality across Germany. A look into the future shows that the structurally weak regions are facing major challenges. In order to cope with this, an active structural policy is still required, ”explains the head of the BBSR, Dr. Markus Eltges.

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The regionally differentiated forecast of the BBSR makes its assumptions on the basis of long-term demographic developments. These include, among other things, external and internal migration as well as births and deaths. The forecast assumes that these trends will remain stable in the future. Accordingly, it cannot depict crises that occur suddenly and have a lasting effect or politics in the future.

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