Demographics of Germany

Germany is the richest country in Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe (after Russia). It is the fourth richest country in the world. Its demographic situation is similar to many of its neighbors, which include several nearby large counties of around 60 million people, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Each are unique, but because of its central position in Europe, this is a perfectly good case to examine.

The population of Germany is almost 83 million (82,800,000 in 2017 estimate). The rate of growth has been slow. In 1939, they had 69 million people (inside current borders: not counting territory and population gains in the 1930s). They still only had 69 million in 1950. Its fertility rate is now 1.59 children born per woman (2016 estimate). This is low, but not as low as Japan. Since the 1970s, the German death rate has exceeded its birth rate. Its fertility rate has been below 2.00 since 1970.

Unlike Japan, there has been significant immigration to Germany. The rate of immigration to Germany, relative to the size of their population has been higher than in the United States. About 7 million of Germany’s residents do not have German citizenship and over 10 million of the people in Germany (12%) were born outside of Germany. They tend to be from everywhere, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Italy, Romania, Greece, Syria, other EU countries, and so forth.

So….the picture is different when it comes to the demographic “pyramid,” although because of the low birth rates, it is still not very pyramidal. Not as bizarre looking as Japan’s, but this clearly still shows a shortage of young labor and a potential burden on the younger generation as the larger older population ages.

In many respects the comparison between Japan and Germany is most interesting, as Japan is a case of a country with low birth rate that does not have significant immigration, while Germany is the opposite. A proper in-depth study of this would look at the macro and micro economic impacts of this, the social impacts, and the long-term strengths and weaknesses these countries develop as a result of this. It is not a task I will be taking on.

As far as what the estimates for German population in 2050, hard to imagine it is going to be significantly different than what is today. It only grew 14 million in the last 80 or so years. A lot of this growth is due to immigration. So the United Nations estimates it will be 79 million in 2050. Sounds perfectly reasonable, although it is dependent on their continued immigration policy.

I have now briefly looked at six countries in the world, Russia, United States, China, India, Germany and Japan. This includes the three most populous counties in the world (followed by Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico and Japan). They include five of the six richest countries in the world (with the UK being fifth on the list and France being seventh). I think that will be all for now.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

Articles: 1516


  1. An interesting set of articles. I thought you may be about to relate these demographics to their military capacity and forecast the potential for future conflict.

    • “Yes and the migration rate does not increase their warmaking potential, on the contrary.”

      Warmaking potential comprises demographic economic components.

      While immigration does indeed not increase the recruiting base (with current laws), it has significantly improved the economic and fiscal health of Germany since 2005.

      The demographic situation is not worse than 1990 as the east German states contribute population and women serve in the armned fiorces.

      Therefore, your statement is wrong, you confuse a deliberate political decision with demographic or economic issues.

      • Germany had to endure the unification, now has to partake in a “fiscal programme” (that is essentially the transfer of money into the mediterranean, “protectionistic” sphere of the EU), while also enduring the highest influx of migrants (and not to mention, last but not least, the “Energiewende”, alternative energy programme which increases the living costs and makes it more dependent on other nations).
        On the contrary, it seems that the current situation increases the strain on the economy (specifically, the social systems) , since it once again, as mentioned below, depends on the cultural spheres and the development levels of their country of origin, unless you want to argue that speculating on cheap labour aka “slaves” (would be the most fitting term) are the solution (I think Dareios and Alexander the IIIrd might educate us here).

        The current situation results in a possible polarization, which can lead to instability (e.g. AfD), while additionally, foreign problems are imported (Kurdish – Turkish clashes, increase of antisemitic incidents in Berlin).
        To this has to be added that post industrialized societies probably cannot carry war to the same degree as they did in the previous World Wars (which is tied to militarization levels anyway).
        During WW2, Germany was sitting on the entire capital stock of Western Europe, the most developed parts of the world, yet out of the entire labour force, they could only recruit people from the Germanic sphere (with a few exceptions based on fragile alliances, or limited numbers of nationalists), a byproduct of their racist ideology.
        Even today it does not seem that there is a substantial shift or change in the attitude towards Germany by its adjacent nations.
        Money and Living standards are the main motivators and not ideals or convictions, everything else would be overly idealistic.
        The US for instance (“e pluribus unum”), the ultimate defender and soldier material is the poor man from Iowa.

        • You obviously do not understand the basics of the Energiewende, you provide no data on the German economy and you are obviously not able to get facts right on the immigration.

          Most of the data are nicely compiled by the various german agencies like IAB (academic department of the job service).

          To sell your uneducated personal opinion as relevant fact is a weak stunt in a serious discussion.

          1) The Energiewende costs around 15 billion EUR per year (that is 0.5% of German GDP), the differentuial costs depend on oil privce etc. and are expected to be zero around 2035.

          The strategic implication of the Energiewende are obviously lost on you.

          2) The German EU contributions are small (21 billion EUR per year) and give a nice return.

          3) Your data on immigrants are outdated from 2016, the correct ones plus discussion are here:

          Tabelle 1 is your friend, sorry foe. BTW even in 2016 the professional opinion was different from your cited data.

  2. Interesting comment by Stilizkin. In Australia after WW II the government sold the public a “Populate or perish” policy. The argument was that unless Australia increased its population significantly it would be overrun. Many were skeptical, but I wondered why it should not increase military potential given that it provides a larger base of volunteers or conscripts?

    • Because of cultural spheres. Driving a Mercedes or BMW doesn’t make you German, installing Microsoft Windows does not make you American, playing Nintendo Wii does not turn you into a Japanese.
      Other than being able to recruit a few individuals who abandon their old ways, integrate (and there is also a significant hurdle set by the domestic population and institutions to be accepted, due to factors as ethnocentrism and nationalism – keeping in mind that this is Europe and not the United States) it will not result in a substantial net increase of of manpower.
      In times of conflict most would abandon them, unless they would be inclined to protect their property as a “citizen”.
      On the contrary, it might be rather a vulnerability, as it is frequently demonstrated with the issues of radical Islam and pro Russian, infiltrated institutions, making them a risk and generally less suitable for the armed forces.
      I think you can partially count on “historical alliances” (Ottoman, Imperial Germany) as migration is also based on this phenomenon (e.g. France-Algeria connection, or Great Britain-India, Australia, NZ).
      War is a serious business, you need to know who to trust. The EU is already incapable of raising a collective European Army, which would function as a substitute for NATO forces.

      Are €s and $s enough to destroy the walls of ideology and mentality?
      Was Rome doomed or could it simply survive longer, when the Etruscan and Latin core cultures gradually declined relative to the Goth, Vandal, Sarmatian or Sassanid influence?

      • Good comment.

        In Australia prior to WW II there had been a push to bring Japanese immigrants to Australia to help develop the hot, humid tropical northern areas. That area was then perceived as “not suitable for White Races”. Had that happened some historians speculate that the imported Japanese would have become a dangerous 5th column. The Post-WW II pro-immigration stance was centred on European immigrants, perhaps as a reaction to the perceived Japanese immigration risk.

        It all seems consistent with the issues you raise.

        Perhaps the Cliodynamics people (e.g. Peter Turchin) would be able to construct a quantitative model to test the “what if” scenarios around this.

        • Techincally in many ways, this is similar to Dupuy’s work: To understand and predict the future we need to quantify the past.

      • “The EU is already incapable of raising a collective European Army, which would function as a substitute for NATO forces.”

        Here you ignore the fact that the formation of an EU army was usually blocked by UK. They leave the EU in 2019 and it is no surprise that the EU army is suddenly discussed again.

        To exclude something like a EU army within the next two decades is naive IMHO.

        • The UK has little interest in a EU army under the leadership of France (or Germany for that matter) and (probably rightfully) believes that this undertaking might be redundant, since we already have NATO as a functioning system.
          Macron intents to use the Eastern European nations labour to fill up the ranks, while also dragging Germany into a bilateral defense program. This includes missions overseas, such as the protection of precious Uranium mines in Africa.

          • With Germany there will be no expeditional warfare, Macron is already learning that.

            Russia as only relevant opponent has a tiny economy (in comparison to the EU), has 1/3 of the population of EU-27 and 60% of the military manpower.

            The issue is not that the EU countries do not spend enough, they spend it for the wrong stuff.

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