Germany in 2050

   "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 suffer8888). 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.

****) ....massive migration flows that have brought to its knees a city (Ventimiglia, Italy) now pervaded by degradation, with camps on the beach, along the river and the railway; but also drunk foreigners who harass passers-by and a surge in widespread crime: primarily, burglaries and damage to stores and private homes. 

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.

Update: By mid-2017, according to official statistics 43.3% of the population of Munich was either of foreign nationality (28.3%) or of foreign origin (15%). 

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. 


Update II

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:

"Eurostat data indicate that Italy will "import" between 300 and 400 thousand people per year until at least 2040. These will be years in which the number of foreign citizens or citizens of foreign origin will rise from the current 8.3% to just under a third of the entire Italian population. One out of every two Italian children and one out of every three citizens under 40 years of age will be foreigners or of foreign origin. Today, an elementary class composed only of children of foreign origin is news: tomorrow it will be almost the norm."  (L'Espresso)

Update III : The German labor market

When coming to Germany from abroad, you will notice how many simple activities are carried out by "old Germans" (without a visible migration background). Sales assistants, gas station attendants, gardeners, parking ticket clerks, even construction workers usually seem to be of old German origin. Many of them are perhaps integrated foreigners from other parts of Europe who have assimilated themselves in the first or second generation and whose origins can at best be recognised by their name or a slight accent.

This raises the question of who is a foreigner these days. In view of the immigration of Asians, Arabs and Africans, newcomers from Europe and North America have increasingly lost their role as a foreigner. A Bulgarian or Canadian may seem less foreign in Germany today than a Frisian in Bavaria 200 years ago.

This phenomenon of the integration of a wave of old immigrants by the arrival of new immigrants is well known in US history. When Irish and Germans arrived in masses around the middle of the 19th century, they were rejected as foreigners and considered responsible for the allegedly rising crime rate. When Italians ("dagos"), Poles, Russians and Latinos later arrived, the Irish and Germans were promoted to the rank of full-fledged Americans. Later, the descendants of Italians, Poles, Russians and the first Latinos also became full blooded Americans.

The strong Black Lives Matter movement shows that the U.S. is finally ready to better integrate the "blacks", recognizing them as one of the oldest parts of  the American population. It has become fashionable -- at least among the lighter skinned, upper class "blacks"-- to emphasize their African origin with the pride typical of descendants of Irish, Polish or Russian immigrants. With their 15 percent share of total population, the African Americans ensure that the United States remains an anglophone, anglo-cultured country resisting the rising pressure of the Hispanics.

In Germany  Italians, French, Greeks, Portuguese, Americans now integrate so seamlessly (with at least the West German population) that one can hardly speak of them as foreigners any more. Eastern Europeans are also increasingly accepted as part of the local population. The same applies anyway to the descendants of the Turkish generation of guest workers.

Eastern Germany lacks a few decades of cohabitation with immigrants. Apart from Soviets and a few Vietnamese there were few foreigners in the GDR. Therefore, what has been said only partially applies to East Germany.

However, in Germany, Asians,  Arabs and Africans are still considered strangers. Too many of them arrived in too short a time span. Migrants with evil intentions -- Islamists mainly from eastern Arabia and petty criminals from North Africa -- serve the "popular" assumption that refugees are to blame for an allegedly rising crime rate.

There are still waves of immigration that have not reached Germany. These include the Latinos in Spain with the petty criminality of Peruvians and Colombians; the Somalis, Ethiopians and Uyghurs in Turkey; the Ukrainians in Poland; the Caribbeans in Great Britain and France; Indonesians in the Netherlands; the Mozambicans and Angolans in Portugal; the medical doctors from Pakistan and Iran in the US.

Nor does Germany have a North-South problem, as it characterizes Italy where a considerable part of the northern population regards the Italians of the south as foreigners and detests them. Logically, this regional differentiation leads to rejecting all southern foreigners as "even worse" than the despised compatriots from the mezzogiorno.

Consequently, northern Italians are often accused of racism; some even seem to be proud of it. The political consequences of this attitude can be seen in recent election results. Germany must be careful that similar election results in eastern German länder do not provoke blanket judgements on both sides that could weaken the sense of national unity.

After Poland, Germany is the country with the strongest immigration in Europe. A country with a powerful economy that is still flourishing despite COVD 19 and the progress of concreting, it attracts immigrants -- both desirable and undesirable -- although its rather difficult language is of little international importance:. Whether the "old Germans" like it or not, immigrants will increasingly replace them in the simple professions and also above.

Africans in agriculture, as construction workers and in supermarkets, as security guards and (as soon as they are naturalized) as policemen and soldiers; Iraqis as hairdressers; Syrians as bakers and metal workers; Turkish women with headscarves as bus drivers; Afghans and Arabs in retail; Moroccans and Vietnamese with "French" restaurants, Croats and Albanians with "Italian" restaurants and bars; Indians with pharmacies and pizzerias; Chinese and Iranians with 1-euro shops; Nigerians in the red-light trade; Georgians and Chechens in dubious activities - foreigners of the first and second generation will change Germany's economy and labor market more and more visibly, as has long been the case in other countries. Belgium, France, Great Britain and Italy, but also Switzerland and the Netherlands are showing where the trend is heading.


The growing ethnic diversity which is causing problems in French, Belgian and British cities is also starting to cause friction in Germany. Stuttgart, a rather boring industrial city in the Southwest, is the theatre of regular bouts of saturday night fever expressing itself in drunken male crowds seeking fights with police, sometimes even destroying property and looting. Limited data showed that half of the young men were foreigners; the other half  Geman citizens with partly foreign background.

The violence may have been caused by TV images of Floyd-type "defund police" demos in the U.S., Britain and France as well as boredom, the feeling of being discriminated at as foreigners, and by Covid-induced economic and social problems.  Local police, showing presence instead of avoiding confrontation with aggressive drunk youngsters, could be part of the lesson Germany is about to learn.

The Mannheim Chairman of the Police Union (GdP), Thomas Mohr wrote on Facebook:

"The 'Randale-Night' in Stuttgart outraged everyone! Now also in Frankfurt! The perpetrators again mainly young men with a migration background, who have no respect for state institutions, no behavior, no appreciation of other people's property, no scruples to be violent to people."

Update IV

In Germany more than every fourth inhabitant has a migration background. Last year, this figure rose to 21.2 million people, or 26 percent of the population, according to the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden. At 2.1 per cent, the year-on-year increase was thus at its lowest level since 2011. Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of the people with a migration background are immigrants and their descendants from another European country,



A new category has recently appeared in social media.  Who is a 4G-German?  A person with four German grandparents.  Start counting...

Unboxing the future, a trend toward 2050, congrats!


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