The population of eastern Germany will decrease until 2040, according to a new study. Two cities are exceptions to this trend.

People in a fountain

Luisenplatz in Potsdam Photo: Olaf Döring/imago

SEDAN afp | In much of eastern Germany the population is expected to decline enormously between now and 2040. This is the conclusion of a forecast by the Bertelsmann Foundation on demographic development published on Tuesday in Gütersloh. Consequently, compared to 2020, the number of residents is likely to decrease by 12.3 percent in Saxony-Anhalt, 10.9 percent in Thuringia and 7.3 percent in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

According to the foundation's demographic forecasts, a decline of 5.7 percent is expected in Saxony and 2.4 percent in Brandenburg. However, the Saarland in the west is also severely affected, with a projected population decline of 5.3 percent. The situation is completely different in metropolises and large cities: for the state of Berlin, for example, an increase of 5.8 percent is expected until 2040.

Baden-Württemberg, with an increase of 4.6 percent, and Bavaria, with an increase of 4.4 percent, will also grow significantly within 20 years. According to experts' calculations, a population increase of 3.5 percent can be expected in the city-state of Hamburg until 2040.

Where the West stagnates

Other Western countries, however, will tend to stagnate, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, with a minimum expected fall of 0.1 percent, or Lower Saxony with a slight increase of 0.1 percent. According to calculations, the population of Germany as a whole will grow by 0.6 percent by 2040 compared to 2020. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 83.2 million people lived throughout the country that year.

According to the study, the factors behind this development are the regional demographic evolution, sometimes very different, especially between urban and rural areas. The city of Leipzig in the state of Saxony is expected to increase its population by 14.7 percent by 2040, more than any other municipality.

Potsdam, near Berlin in Brandenburg, also takes first place with growth of 11.3 percent. At the other extreme are areas such as the district of Mansfeld-Südharz in western Saxony-Anhalt, with a decrease of 21.1 percent, or the district of Greiz in Thuringia, whose population will decrease by 19.5 percent. percent, or about a fifth, through 2040.

The average age is increasing

According to the foundation's calculations, the progressive aging of society will play a central role in all the country's municipalities. The proportion of people over 65 will increase from just under 22 percent in 2020 to almost 28 percent in 2040 within 20 years.

According to experts, here too there will be important regional differences: the so-called average age of the population will be around 43 years in 2040, with a general upward trend in the city-states of Berlin and Hamburg, in Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania. , Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, on the other hand, are over 52 years old.

More than a third are over 65 years old

In 30 districts, the proportion of people over 65 years of age in the population is expected to be more than 35 percent in 2040, that is, significantly more than a third. They are all located in rural areas of eastern Germany. In the lead is the Greiz district with a share of 39.1 percent, closely followed by the Spree-Neiße district in eastern Brandenburg with 38.5 percent.

The Bertelsmann Foundation called on all communities to prepare for the challenges associated with aging. However, in many cases this will not be possible without federal and state funding programs. “We now need specific strategies to build adequate infrastructure for older generations and overcome the resulting economic challenges,” explained CEO Ralph Heck.

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