The ratio between workers paying into the social security system and retirees sank to 2:1 in 2012, the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) said on Wednesday.
There are 35.7 million people contributing to the state pension system and 17.7 million receiving a pension.
The institute said: “Although the number of contributors in Germany has reached a historic high, the number of pensioners has never been higher.”
The number of workers has risen by 3.2 million since 1992, but the number of pensioners increased by almost six million in the same period.
Reflecting factors like growing longevity of the population, the published figures plot major changes in the demographic composition of post-war Germany.
Two decades ago the ratio between pensioners and workers was 2.7:1 and 50 years ago it was 6:1.
But previous calculations of the ratio of workers to pensioners have looked at all people of working age rather than just those employed and paying into the system. By contrast, the BiB’s calculation only factored in those who were paying social security contributions.
Dr Stephan Kühntopf from the BiB said this made their figures more accurate. “Only two thirds of all people of working age are active contributors,” he said.
The latest census in 2011 showed Germany’s population declined by almost 2 percent with 1.5 million fewer people living in Germany on the previous census in 1987.
The country’s population has been declining since 2003 and could fall to between 65 million and 70 million by 2060, according to a projection from the Federal Statistics Office.
Germany’s birth rate is just 1.4 children per woman and by 2060 a third of the population will be over 65.