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New German cabinet: Five demographic facts

Mara Bierbach
March 14, 2018

Over 40 percent are women, but few ministers hail from the East or a migrant family: DW takes a closer look at the demographics of Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government.

Koalitionsvertrag Unterzeichnung Koalition
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Stache

1. Just one minister has a non-German parent.

Roughly 13 percent of all Germans have a so-called migrant background, meaning that they or at least one of their parents didn't get their German citizenship at birth, according to the Federal Statistics Office (DeStatis). Most of these people have roots in either Turkey or former Sowjet states, such as Poland, Russia and Kazakhstan. In addition to that, around 10 million foreigners live in Germany.

In Angela Merkel's new cabinet, however, only one person, justice minister Katarina Barley, has a non-German parent – her father is British.

2. Women make up roughly 44 percent of the cabinet.

Six out of 15 ministers in the new German cabinet are women - and Angela Merkel of course also remains chancellor. All in all, 43.8 percent of the cabinet are women, just like in the last cabinet.

This fairly even split among genders is largely thanks to Angela Merkel's conservatives, the CDU, who have staffed four out of seven cabinet positions with women, and the Social Democrats (SPD) - half of their six ministries are lead by women. The CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU - which is known to be significantly more conservative than the CDU - solely sents male ministers into the cabinet.

(Worth noting: In the German parliament, less than 31 percent of seats are filled by women.)

Infografik Wer sitzt im Bundeskabinett? ENG

3. The cabinet is on average seven years older than the German population.

The average age of the population in Germany is 44 years and four months, according to DeStatis. Angela Merkel and her ministers are, on average, 51 years and two months old.

Two ministers have not yet hit the big four-0: Health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is 37, family minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) is 39. The oldest cabinet member is interior minister Horst Seehofer – the head of Bavaria's conservatives (68), followed by Chancellor Merkel, who is 63.

4. Chancellor Merkel is the lone natural scientist among lawyers and political scientists.

All 16 members of the new cabinet have a university degree. Helge Braun (CDU), who will serve as head of the Chancellery, is a professor of medicine, five other cabinet members – including Angela Merkel - have a doctorate.

The chancellor, who is a physicist, is the only cabinet member with a natural science degree. Six ministers studied political science, four hold law degrees, three have economics or business degrees, and two are medical doctors.

Infografik Woher kommen die Mitglieder des Bundeskabinetts? ENG

5. The former East is underrepresented, the Saarland overrepresented.

Have you ever heard of the Saarland? The tiny South-Western state is the most overrepresented region in the cabinet. Only one percent of the German population lives there, but two key ministries are led by Saarländers: foreign minister Heiko Maas (SPD) and economics minister Peter Altmaier (CDU).

Chancellor Merkel, who also represents a district in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the federal parliament, is one of just two members of the new government who hail from states in former East Germany, along with family minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) from Berlin. So while 20 percent of the German population live in Eastern states, only 12.5 percent of the cabinet are from the former GDR.