"In 200 years, most people will be brown", said Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, the eminent Stanford geneticist. What he hinted at is the accelerating process of human globalization: the mixing of all peoples in the course of massive migration streams. As the end result of this relentless moving and mixing, brown will become the dominant skin color worldwide, he said. Gradual change is already evident in the United States where an estimated third of all who consider themselves as non-Hispanic whites are said to have a mixed ancestry, sometimes unbeknownst to them*).
What does that mean for Germany? Germany will in all likelihood continue to absorb millions of immigrants. These newcomers will increasingly hail from non-European countries and most of them will physically distinguish themselves from the local population.
The visible impact of immigration has started very slowly in Germany because up to now, most migrants came from other European countries and the neighboring Mediterranean. Due to demographic trends, however, more newcomers will in future arrive from sub-Saharan Africa, China and the Indian subcontinent.
If current immigration trends continue or accelerate, the majority of big city dwellers in Germany will be migrants or first generation descendants of immigrants. Already now, in cities such as Munich every fourth person**) is a foreigner. Only in the countryside, "old" Germans will retain the majority. On average, the "new" Germans will be overwhelmingly young, the "old" Germans old. As owners of most real estate, intellectual property and capital goods, many "old" Germans will find themselves in a comfortable social position whereas most immigrants will struggle to achieve their "German Dream" and compete with the local blue collar class.
Due to demand of employers and demographic pressure from outside, immigration will continue to be strong. In combination with the typically high fertility of the immigrants, newcomers will easily make up for any natural decrease of the "old" German population. The overall population size of Germany is therefore likely to remain at or exceed the current level of some 80 million, depending, of course, on the country's relative economic performance.
Although massive immigration is needed to sustain Germany's economy, it will also entail some unpleasant trends such as social disequilibria, new poverty and crime***). The myriad of small family homes ("Eigenheim") in suburbs, exurbs and the countryside are at risk; the image of a Shangri-La of safety which Germany still presents will suffer. The country will begin to resemble the United States in showing a combination of developed and developing country aspects. Gated communities will spring up and high-risers will become fashionable. Cities will need more effective policies to prevent the appearance of poor ethnic ghettos.
The immigrants will not only offer cultural variety but also import their economic traditions. Informal Chinese and Bangladeshi credit unions will serve to launch new commercial ventures; Arab and Persian style suq markets will extend the scope of traditional German flea markets. Fiscal police will have a hard time tracking and reining in the new informal economy with its often mafia-like structures. However, this informal economy will serve as a launching pad for new economic ventures; it will also supplement the traditional economy with creativity and services.
Also, the immigrants will import their religion. The percentage of Muslims in Europe's population, for instance, is likely to almost double by 2050. "Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman – well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population. In Europe, for instance, the Muslim share of the population is expected to increase from 5.9% in 2010 to 10.2% in 2050 when migration is taken into account along with other demographic factors that are driving population change, such as fertility rates and age. Without migration, the Muslim share of Europe’s population in 2050 is projected to be nearly two percentage points lower (8.4%)." (Pew Research Center) In 2010, Germany's Muslim population was calculated at about 5 percent of the total. If the Pew Center's projections prove accurate, the share would rise to nearly 10 percent by 2050.
Although, in the very long run, the "old" Germans will become a minority in their country, there is no danger that the "typically German" mentality and style of life will disappear. Although English would become the second language, dominating not only science and business. Beer steins, handshakes and German life style will be adopted by most newcomers eager to integrate and match local requirements.
The average German citizen in 2050 might be of slightly darker complexion but in all likelihood he or she will be as "teutonic" as his or her predecessors or ancestors. Although the country will become more colorful, many "old" German traditions will survive, if only as tourism attractions.
Heinrich von Loesch
*) A recent exhibit in Milan, Italy, of Civil War photographs released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Library of Congress shows several groups of freed slaves fighting for the Union. As far as the black & white pictures can tell, the average complexion of these volunteers appears much darker than that of today's African American population
. Keith Richburg, the former Africa correspondent of the Washington Post, described how he felt awkward for being, as an African American, of much lighter complexion than the Africans -- an experience also made by other American travellers.
**) Adding foreign born citizens with a German passport brings the share of "people with a migration background" to 40 percent of Munich's 1.5 million population. Within 10-15 years the "old" Germans could become a minority in Munich.
***) A spate of events in traditionally xenophobic northern Italy provoked calls for closing the borders and Mussolini's return. In a poor quarter of Turin, three African migrants staying in an occupied building kidnapped a handicapped Italian girl, kept and raped her for several days. In a train outside Milan, when a ticket inspector wanted to see the tickets of a group of young Latinos, they pulled a machete, chopped his arm off and wounded another rail employee.
It is obvious that clandestine immigrants represent a mixture of the best and the worst, the elite and the hoodlums. Italy, a country well known for its weak law enforcement, its superficial border controls and its mafia-run refugee reception centers pays a price by attracting ordinary criminals as well as organized crime such as the Latin youth maras.
The German microcensus 2014 revealed that in 2014, 16.4 million people of foreign origin were living in Germany. Compared to 2011, the number of immigrants had risen by 1 million to 10.9 million. Over the same period the local (non-immigrant) population decreased by 885,000. For 2015, immigration is expected to exceed previous levels. By 2030, Munich can be expected to become Germany's first big city with a population majority of foreign origin.
These figures debunk popular fears that Germany's population is shrinking. The Berlin Institute for Population and Development is notorious among those (probably more politically than scientifically motivated) institutions which inspired popular media such as Der Spiegel to spread the "Demokalypse" story that Germany's was caught in an irreversible long term trend toward depopulation which would shrink the economy, as well.
Clearly, none of this is plausible. In 2015, Germany is Europe's most powerful magnet for immigrants. Immigration policies and logistic issues are currently among Germany's most pressing problems.
Italy also expects rapid growth of its population of foreign origins. By 2040, every third citizen below age 40 will be of foreign origin, according to the official Bureau of Statistics ISTAT:
"I dati Eurostat indicano che l’Italia “importerà” tra le 300 e le 400 mila persone l’anno almeno fino al 2040. Saranno anni in cui il numero dei cittadini stranieri o di origine straniera salirà dall’attuale 8,3 per cento a poco meno di un terzo dell’intera popolazione italiana. Sarà straniero o di origine straniera un ragazzino italiano su due e un cittadino con meno di 40 anni su tre. Oggi una classe elementare composta soltanto da bambini di origine straniera fa notizia: domani sarà quasi la normalità." (L'Espresso)