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IN NUMBERS: How life in Germany has changed over the past 10 years

A lot has changed in Germany in the past six months, let alone the past 10 years. We take a look in figures at the difference a decade has made.

IN NUMBERS: How life in Germany has changed over the past 10 years

At the moment, the corona crisis determines almost everything. Looking back to 10 years ago almost feels like travelling to another world. 

When it comes to everyday life in Germany, some figures show a rapid change – for instance in drinking, eating and smoking habits and in media consumption. 

Here are the biggest change that the past decade has brought.

READ ALSO: From beer to babies: The 15 stats you need to describe the Germans

Mobile phones: Currently, 76 percent of German citizens above the age of 16 use a mobile phone with access to the internet. That corresponds to 53 million people, according to the IT industry association Bitkom.

In 2015, the figures stood at 65 percent and in 2012 only 36 percent. The triumph of smartphones, however, only began in 2007 with the introduction of the Apple iPhone. 

Beer: Ten years ago, the per capita consumption of beer was around 107 litres, according to the German Brewers Association. In 2019, Germany is only said to have drunk around 102 litres.

And 1976 is said to have been a record year in West Germany with a per capita consumption of 151 litres. The market share of non-alcoholic beer rose from around three percent ten years ago to seven percent in 2020.

Varieties of alcohol-free beers. Photo: DPA

Drinks: In 2019, Germany consumed almost 124 litres of non-alcoholic soft drinks per capita, according to the German Association of Non-Alcoholic Drinks (wafg) in Berlin.

Within the category, the shift towards reduced-calorie and calorie-free drinks such as Diet Coke continued. In 2010, 118 litres of drinks such as cola and lemonades, fruit juice drinks and spritzers, sodas, tea and energy drinks were consumed.

READ ALSO: The 20 key stats that help explain Germany today

Meat: Around eight million people in Germany are vegetarian and around 1.3 million are vegan, according to the ProVeg interest group. According to estimates, there are around 200 new vegetarians and 200 new vegans every day. In 2011, the then still called Vegetarian Union (VEBU) estimated there to be six million vegetarians and around 60,000 vegans.

Media: The daily consumption of moving images by people aged 14 and over was 5 hours and 10 minutes in 2019, according to the VAUNET media usage analysis.

According to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft (AGF) Video Research, the daily television viewing time in 2019 was 211 minutes, whereas in 2010 it was 223 minutes.

Depending on the age, time spent in front of the television in 2019 was very different: adults over 50 watched more than five hours per day, whilst those between the ages of 14-29 watched less than an hour and a half. The corona crisis inspired a comeback of real-time television.

Lockdown saw more Germans reaching for the remote. Photo: DPA

Smoking: According to various studies to which, among other things, the current addiction report by the federal government refers, the proportion of young people up to the age of 15 who smoke has fallen by two thirds in the past ten years.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Why Germany needs to take the smoking ban more seriously

In adults, the proportion of smokers has fallen from around 40 to around 25 percent of men, and from around 30 to 20 percent of women since 2003. A comparison of federal states still shows that more people smoke in the north and in large cities.

Translation by Stephanie Nourse


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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.