Demographic change

We live longer.

The health and life span of people in Europe are ever increasing. Life expectancy has significantly risen in the past 30 years: by a total of five years since 1980. In 2010 the average life expectancy in Europe was 72.5 for men and 80 for women. There are great differences between the individual countries, though. While people in Scandinavia reach a significantly older age, life expectancy in the eastern countries is dropping. In Germany, life expectancy rises by an average of three months each year. Compared to the generation of our grandparents, our lifetime has already increased by more than a third. According to official data, the average life expectancy in Germany is 76 years for men and 81 years for women. For comparison: At the end of the 19th century, the average life expectancy was still at 40 years for women and around 35 years for men.

Our numbers are decreasing.

More then 7.1 billion people live on our planet. The world population is expected to rise to 10.9 billion by the year 2100. Population in the poorer countries, such as in Africa, keeps on growing unhindered. Not so in Europe, however. Although the current demographic situation in Europe is still marked by a continuing population growth, UN experts are predicting a decline in population from 740 million today to 639 million in the year 2100. With 8.4 births per 1,000 inhabitants, Germany has the lowest birth rate in Europe – closely followed by Portugal, Italy and Greece – and is already experiencing a decline in population. While there were still 1.4 million babies born in Germany in 1964, there were only 663,000 births in 2011. By now the birth rate has levelled out at a low but relatively stable rate of about 1.4 births per women. This puts it below the level where simple replacement of the population would be possible.

If for example this birth rate and the estimated migration surplus of 100,000 people remain unchanged in Germany, the population here could reduce from 81.5 million to 77.4 million by 2030. In the year 2060 the population in Germany would then only be 64.7 million people.

A downward trend in the birth rate is not a new phenomenon in Germany, though: The number of newborns has already been decreasing for a hundred years. Around 1860 the birth rate in the area of what was then the German Empire was still at 4.7. During the 1930s it already decreased to 1.8 and therefore below the limit of 2.1 where the parent generation reproduces itself.