Germany sees immigration boom while native population declines

Immigrant Berlin. Neukölln, September 2012. [Joel Schalit]

More than 20% of Germany’s population has a migrant background. Migrants are almost twice as likely to have a university education as the average German. 

Statistics released by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Monday (3 August) show a recent surge of immigration in Germany. The European Union is out in front, followed by China and Syria.

In 2014, 16.4 million German residents, over 20% of the total population, had a migrant background. This is an increase of 3% in just one year, fuelled mainly by high immigration, according to Destatis.

Germany was home to 10.9 million immigrants in 2014, an increase of more than 10% since 2011. Over half of people with a migrant background (56%) held a German passport, including 46% of immigrants.

European Union immigration increased by over 18% from 2011 to 2014. Poland, Romania and Italy were the most important countries of origin of Germany’s EU immigrants over this period. Together these three countries count 343,000 citizens on German soil, according to Destatis.

Employment was the main motivation for migrants that arrived in Germany after the 2008 financial crisis (28%). Among those that migrated to Germany between 2000 and 2007, only 16.5% came specifically to look for work. Of the immigrants that arrived after 2011, 44% have a university education, compared to 24% of Germans without a migrant background.

The number of migrants from outside the EU also rose substantially between 2011 and 2014, Destatis reported. Germany’s Chinese minority increased by 54%, or 38,000, and the Syrian population almost doubled over the same period, with 35,000 people seeking refuge from civil war in Germany.

36% of all migrants that have arrived in Germany since 1960 said they speak fluent German, while for 11%, German is their native language. 

On 27 May, the Commission proposed the relocation of 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, as well as the resettlement of 20,000 from outside the EU, across member states. The Commission's scheme needs to be adopted by the Council of the European Union, voting by qualified majority.

It was clear from the outset that the proposal stood no chance of being accepted by most member states, given the reactions of EU leaders at the extraordinary summit on migration on 23 April.

  • 8-9 October: EU home affairs ministers meet to discuss also migration policies

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