German population set to shrink by 10 million by 2060

Immigrants to Germany increasingly hail from the Middle East. Berlin, 2013. [Joel Schalit/Flickr]

Germany’s population is set to decline by about 10 million people by 2060 as immigrants arriving in Europe’s top economy fail to offset a falling birth rate, new projections showed Tuesday.

Federal statistics office Destatis said Germany was expected to halve between 68 and 73 million inhabitants by 2060, compared to its current 81 million. It would therefore lose its place as the most populous country in the European Union and probably be overtaken by Britain and France, according to different projections.

However the expected drop in Germany’s population is less marked than was forecast in a similar study six years ago due to a recent boom in immigration. Last year, more than half a million more people migrated to Germany than left, largely due to the opening up of the labour market to eastern European countries.

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But Roderich Egeler, president of Destatis, told reporters that long-term developments suggested a projected “migratory lull for the future”.

Germany suffers from one of the EU’s lowest birth rates, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the ageing population is a looming challenge for the country. The new forecasted figures indicate that the population of working age is set to slump from 49 million people today to about 36 million in 2060.

This, in turn, could negatively impact on economic growth and financing of the health and retirement systems.

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