IN NUMBERS: How life in Germany has changed since reunification

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IN NUMBERS: How life in Germany has changed since reunification

As Germany marked 31 years of reunification on October 3rd, we looked at what has changed in the past three decades, from life expectancy to religion.


Life expectancy

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the average life expectancy in Germany is currently around 83 years for women and 78 for men. 

In 1990, the average life expectancy amongst those born in former West Germany was 79 for women and 73 for men. 


According to figures from 1989, women born in the East could expect to live until they were about 76, while men could expect to live to around 70-years-old on average. 


According to the German Brewers' Association, the average German consumes about 100 litres of beer a year. 

Just over 30 years ago the average amount was 143 litres. Beer consumption in Germany reached its peak in the West in 1976, when the average citizen consumed a record 151 litres.

READ ALSO: Ten things you never knew about German reunification


The 2020 European Football Championship was cancelled due to coronavirus (and later rescheduled to 2021).

1990, on the other hand, was a World Cup year. Headed by coach Franz Beckenbauer, Germany became World Champions for the third time in Rome. 

Germany became World Champions for a third time at the World Cup Final in Rome in 1990. Photo: DPA

FC Bayern Munich were German champions in 1990 and won the same title again this year. 

Their victory in 1900 time was their eleventh title, while their victory this year marks their 29th. 

Hansa Rostock emerged as champions in the last GDR Premier League, which ended in May 1991.


According to church data, around 50 percent of the German population currently identify as Protestant or Roman Catholic. 

Three decades ago this figure was 72 percent. In the GDR, however, around 70 percent of citizens were said to have no religious affiliation.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about Catholicism in Germany

The proportion of Muslims in the country rose from 3.7 percent in 1990 to around five percent in 2000. And a study from earlier in 2021 found that between 5.3 and 5.6 million people of the Islam faith currently live in Germany, making up a share of 6.4 to 6.7 percent of the country’s total population – which stands at around 83.2 million.

READ ALSO: A breakdown of Germany's Muslim population

In 2019, 95,000 citizens were registered as belonging to the Jewish community, compared to less than 30,000 in 1990. 


According to recent figures from the German Cancer Research Center, 22 percent of Germans over the age of 15 are smokers. Thirty years ago this figure lay at almost 30 percent. 

The proportion of men who smoke has decreased from 37 to 26 percent, while the proportion of women has decreased from 22 to 18 percent. 

READ ALSO: German restaurant owner gives non-smoking employees extra holiday


Meat consumption

According to the interest group ProVeg, around eight million Germans are currently vegetarian, while 1.3 million are vegan. 

Estimates suggest that only one percent of the population in 1990 were vegetarian, that is to say around 800,000 citizens. 

Sunday TV

Around four million TV viewers tuned in to the last ever episode of German soap opera Lindenstraße in March 2020, twice as many viewers as normal.

In the first three years after it first came on air in 1985, its average viewing figures reached over 10 million. In 1990 the show still had around nine million viewers every Sunday.


The average German spent on average 211 minutes (or three and a half hours) watching TV every day in 2019. 

In 1990, the average (albeit only for West Germany) was around 147 minutes (or about two and a half hours).

Records for Germany as a whole only began in 1992 -  the average back then was 158 minutes.

Foreign holidays

Before the Covid pandemic hit, Germans were particularly keen travellers. 

In 2019, 74 percent of Germans headed abroad for a holiday, more than ever before according to a study by the German Research Foundation for Holidays and Travel.

Mecklenberg-Western Pomerania is particularly popular with German tourists. Photo: DPA

Of those, 8.4 percent of these travelled longer distances for their holidays, but the clear favourite amongst Germans was Spain at 12.7 percent, followed by Italy, Turkey, Austria and Greece. 

Spain also took the top spot for holiday destinations in 1990, with Italy following shortly behind. 

Domestic holidays

According to the same study, the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which borders on the Baltic sea, is the most popular holiday destination amongst German tourists. 

Runners up were Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg.

The fall of the Wall in 1989 saw a huge surge in the amount of East Germans travelling around the country in the following year. The amount of West Germans travelling to the new German states, however, was lower than expected. 

READ ALSO: Staycations boom in Germany amid heavy losses to tourism industry


Germany’s capital, along with London and Paris, is one of the top three travel destinations in Europe. 

In 2019, before the pandemic took hold, the city registered almost 14 million day-visitors, with around 34 million staying overnight. 


At the beginning of the nineties there were only around 3 million visitors a year, according to the Berlin-Brandenburg Office for Statistics. 


According to the German Tourism Board, 90 million tourists came to stay in German in 2019, around three times as many as in 1990. 


Merkel is Germany's first female Chancellor. Photo: DPA

Angela Merkel, the first female Chancellor, is set to stand down soon after being head of the German government for 16 years.

In 1990 this breakthrough was still a long way away - in both East and West Germany only men had held the top position. 

The proportion of women in today’s newly-elected Bundestag is 34 percent - a small increase from the previous electoral term when there was around 30 percent. 

In the first reunited German Bundestag in 1990, only 20 percent of MPs were women.

READ ALSO: What did Germany's first female chancellor do for women?

Gay rights

Same-sex couples have been allowed to get married in Germany since 2017. Germany in 1990, however, was still quite a homophobic country. 

Press coverage of the murder of gay actor Walter Sedlmayr was widely spread and sensationalist, and the airing of a Lindenstraße episode where two men kissed caused an uproar. 

Until 1994, the age of consent for gay people remained higher than in the West than in the East, because politicians refused to alter the discriminatory clause 175 in the German constitution for years.



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