Germany’s population stagnates amid pandemic

Around the same number of people lived in Germany at the end of 2021 as in the previous year, new figures show.

People walk near an U-Bahn station in Berlin.
People walk near an U-Bahn station in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

According to initial estimates by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 83.2 million people were living in Germany at the end of 2021, which was roughly the same number as at the end of both 2020 and 2019.

In 2021, the stagnating population was due to the increased number of deaths, which exceeded the number of births. The gap between births and deaths, however, was filled by higher net immigration. In 2020, net immigration had decreased.

Since reunification, the number of people living in Germany has mostly grown, the office said. However, in 2020, Germany’s population did not grow for the first time since 2011. 

Source: Federal Statistical Office

Experts say that the population is stagnating in 2021 rather than falling due to the fact that more people are moving in than out.

Destatis estimates that in 2021 there will be between 270,000 and 320,000 more people coming into Germany than leaving. 

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: Five things to know about Germany’s foreign population

“Without these gains in migration, the population would have been shrinking since 1972, as more people have died than have been born every year since then,” the Federal Statistical Office states in its report.

Initial estimates show that the number of births increased from 773,144 in 2020 to somewhere between 775,000-795,000 in 2021. 

The number of deaths also increased – from 985,572 in 2020 to about 1.02 million.

The basis for the estimates from the Federal Statistical Office is data on births as well as inflows and outflows from the months from January to October 2021.

The final figures on population will be published in summer 2022.

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Crime in Germany at lowest level since reunification

The number of crimes recorded by German police dropped last year across all states – except one.

Crime in Germany at lowest level since reunification
File photo shows a man being arrested by police. Photo: DPA

Nationwide, there was a total of 5.55 million criminal offences recorded in 2018, a decrease of 3.6 percent compared to the previous year, reported Welt. That's the lowest level since records began in 1992-93, just after the reunification of Germany in 1990.

The new figures show recorded crime dropped in all states last year apart from one.

In 2017 police crime statistics (PKS) had shown there was a total of 5.76 million crimes, a drop of 9.6 percent from the previous year – making it the sharpest decline in nearly 25 years.

However, authorities warn that statistics do not tell the whole story as many offences go unreported.

SEE ALSO: What crimes are committed in Germany and where is criminality most common?

Sebastian Fiedler, chairman of the Federation of German Criminal Investigators (BDK), stressed to Welt that crime statistics only reflect the picture partially. Instead of statistics, he called for “periodic safety reports”, which would in future be prepared by an independent committee of experts and presented every two years.

In 2018 the Aufklärungsquote (rate of solving crime) was 57.7 percent, the same rate it's been roughly over the past 15 years.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer was due to present the findings in Berlin on Tuesday.

Biggest drop in Saxony

The biggest drop in crime was recorded in the eastern state of Saxony where 278,797 incidents were recorded, a drop of 13.7 percent compared to 2017. Next was Bremen where 74,524 crimes were logged, a decrease of 8.2 percent.

The only state to record an increase of crime, albeit a small one, was Bavaria where 635,420 crimes were recorded, up 0.9 percent.

The highest number of recorded crimes are in Germany's most populated state, North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2018 1,282,441 crimes were logged, a drop of 6.6 percent on the previous year. In the capital Berlin 511,677 offences were recorded last year, a slight decrease of 1.7 percent on 2017.

Horst Seehofer, Interior Minister, will present the findings on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

A third of crimes involve theft

As in previous years, around one third of all crimes involved theft. Fewer vehicles (30,232, a decrease of 9.1 percent) and bikes (292,015, minus 2.7 percent) were stolen. Pickpocketing went down considerably, by 18.2 percent to 104,196 cases. Shoplifting fell by 4.1 percent to 339,021 cases.

The police have been particularly successful in combating burglary. The number dropped to an all-time low (97,504 cases, a drop of 16.3 percent). On the other hand, so-called 'tank fraud' (theft of petrol) rose slightly, by 1.3 percent to 72,424 cases.

SEE ALSO: Where do most break-ins occur in Germany and why are they going down?

Meanwhile, the distribution of illegal pornographic materials increased significantly by 13.6 percent to 11,435 cases.

The number of drug offences has also risen again, by 6.1 percent to 350,662 cases, making it the seventh consecutive year of growth.

Sharp rise in crimes against police

According to the report, there was a huge increase – nearly 40 percent – in the crime “resistance against state power”. A total of 34,168 cases were logged last year. This includes crimes against police and enforcement officers.

However, it should be noted that new criminal offences were created in May 2017 so it’s difficult to compare this number to previous years.

Oliver Malchow, chairman of the Police Union (GdP), said: “It is frightening how violence against police officers is breaking new ground.

“Statistically, my colleagues were assaulted about 32 times a day last year. If you count the resistance crimes among them, it is almost 94 a day,” he told Welt.