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Germany: Immigrants made up over 18% of 2022 population

April 20, 2023

Some 15.3 million people in Germany, just under one in five nationwide, immigrated there at some point in their lives, according to new government statistics for 2022. Almost 5 million more were born to migrant parents.

People crowd in a busy shopping street in Frankfurt, Germany
Almost one in five people in Germany have an "immigration history," the latest government statistics showImage: Schoening/imageBROKER/picture alliance

Roughly 20.2 million people in Germany in 2022 either moved to the country themselves or were born to two people who moved there, according to figures published by the Federal Statistical Office, Destatis, on Thursday.

That's a 6.3% rise on the 2021 figure and represents 24.3% of the total population of around 83.2 million.

Of those, 15.3 million, or 18.4% of the population, moved to Germany from abroad themselves at some point in their own lifetimes. 

The high average levels of migration in recent years were also apparent in the statistics.

Just over 6 million people had migrated to Germany in the last decade on record, between 2013 and 2022.

Increased migration from conflict zones like Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan in 2022 meant that the amount of people who migrated themselves was rising faster, up 7.3% on the past year, than the number of children born to migrant parents, up 4% on 2021, Destatis said.

'Immigration stories' and 'migration backgrounds'

Destatis counted another 4.9 million, roughly 6%, whose parents both migrated to Germany.

And it noted that another 3.9 million had one parent who was a migrant though it said it was not counting them as having a full "immigration story," rather a "one-sided" one. 

You might have seen or heard slightly higher figures for migrant population size in Germany in the past. That's because Destatis was tracking what it describes as people with an Einwanderungsgeschichte, an "immigration history," but it also regularly reports on people in Germany with a Migrationshintergrund, a "migration background."

Immigration: Germany unveils plan to tackle labor shortages

The statistics are separate yet the data also overlaps considerably. The difference is that to classify as having a "migration background," one or more parents not having been born a German citizen suffices.

Some 23.8 million people in Germany, or 28.7% of the population, fit that definition, Destatis said on Thursday, a slight increase on their last tally.  

Germany has long been known for a comparatively open migration policy, partly the result of decades of low birth rates and a large labor market. The government is currently working on a new policy designed to better attract skilled labor from outside the EU.

Where are the arrivals from and why did they migrate? 

Destatis noted that people who had moved to Germany in the last ten years were on average younger than the average native citizen, with an average age of 29.9 versus 47.0 across the population. 

Among them, 27.9% said the moved because they were fleeing or seeking asylum, 24.2% said they were looking for work, and 23.8% said they were moving to join their families. Another 8.2% said they migrated to pursue academic opportunities. 

There was near gender parity among the 15.3 million in Germany who had migrated in the last decade; 47% were women and 53% men. 

The most common countries of origin were civil war-stricken Syria (16%), followed by Romania (7%) and Poland (6%), with Ukraine next at 5%. Destatis noted that the unexpected increase in arrivals from Ukraine in 2022 was probably not yet adequately represented in the data.

msh/jcg (AFP, dpa)

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