For years the number of residents in Germany’s biggest cities grew strongly. But then the pandemic began, throwing uncertainty into the air.
In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the growth of Deutschland’s big cities, researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) found after analysing population data in the 15 largest German cities.
Lower immigration, fewer births and more deaths in the first pandemic year of 2020 are responsible for this, the researchers say. The study authors also see signs of a negative shift in 2021.
The researchers looked at population trends in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich, Leipzig, Dresden, Hanover, Düsseldorf, Essen, Bremen, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Dortmund and Duisburg.
At the end of the decade (2010 to 2020) these cities had grown almost without exception, by an average of 0.55 percent between 2017 and 2018. In 2019, growth was about 0.36 per cent.
In 2020, however, the bottom line was an average minus of 0.18 percent growth, with Leipzig, Hamburg and Munich being the only three cities which have been able to record small or moderate growth.
Frankfurt and Berlin stagnate, while Stuttgart loses many people
According to the report, the greatest decline in population was in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, with a drop of more than one per cent of its population.
In Berlin, Frankfurt am Main and Essen, population development stagnated in 2020. In Dortmund, Hanover, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Bremen, the researchers registered a weak to moderate shrinkage of the population. The population declined sharply not only in Stuttgart, but also in Duisburg and Nuremberg.
This new development is said to come from several factors. The number of people moving into cities – from abroad as well as from rural areas – has been of great importance for booming large German cities in recent years.
In 2020, perhaps not surprisingly, there was a slump. Across all municipalities, the number of people moving into cities fell by almost 17 per cent, while the number of people moving out fell by 9 percent.
The ratio of births to deaths was also unfavourable last year: a 2.5 per cent drop in births contrasted with a nearly 5 percent increase in deaths in urban areas.
Overall the pandemic has had an impact on population development in Germany. According to an initial estimate by the Federal Statistical Office, the population in Germany did not increase in 2020 for the first time since 2011. Rather, it stagnated at 83.2 million residents
“It appears that in the first Corona year 2020, long-term trends in population development in Germany’s 15 largest cities were slowed down or interrupted,” write the UFZ researchers.
They also expect population figures to continue to decline in 2021. It can be assumed that “only low growth rates, stagnation and increased shrinkage can be observed”.
Number of inhabitants/population – (die) Einwohnerzahl
Plummet/nosedive – einbrechen
Population development – (die) Bevölkerungsentwicklung
Immigration – (die) Zuwanderung
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