Zensus 2022 Census: Germany’s population at 82.7 million

Press release No. 44 of June 26, 2024

  • Germany’s population has grown by 2.5 million since 2011 Census but the country has 1.4 million fewer inhabitants than assumed
  • Foreign population: above-average differences between 2022 Census results and intercensal population update

WIESBADEN - Approximately 82.7 million people were living in Germany on 15 May 2022 according to results of the 2022 Census now available. "Compared with the previously accepted population figure based on the official intercensal population update, about 1.4 million fewer people were living in Germany on Census Day than previously assumed," says Ruth Brand, President of the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). The statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder also report that Germany’s population increased by roughly 2.5 million between the two censuses of 2011 and 2022. However, the actual population growth was not as pronounced as the intercensal population update had indicated. The population figure accepted up to now comes from the official intercensal population update, which is based on the data from the previous census conducted in 2011.

On average, the population of Germany on Census Day (15 May 2022) was 1.6% lower than assumed on the basis of the intercensal population update. In seven Länder, the negative percentage differences between the census-based population figures and the intercensal population update exceeded 1.6%, with the largest difference of -3.5% recorded for the city states of Berlin and Hamburg, and for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In another seven Länder, the difference was below average, with the smallest difference (-0.6%) registered in both Schleswig-Holstein and Thüringen. In two Länder, Bremen and Saarland, the population was higher compared with the intercensal population update (Bremen +1.9%, Saarland +1.8%). At municipal level, the differences within the Länder are also much more varied, however.

Lower population figures in more than half of the municipalities
The 2022 Census determines the population figures of all 10,786 municipalities in Germany. In 5,989 municipalities (56%), the population on 15 May 2022 was at least 1% lower than previously indicated. In 3,163 municipalities (29%), there were hardly any differences between census-based figures and the previous population update (positive or negative difference of less than 1%), with figures proving to be stable here. According to the 2022 Census, the population of the remaining municipalities was at least 1% higher than previously thought.

Berlin, Hamburg, München and Köln continue to be the four German cities with over a million inhabitants. Of Germany’s ten largest cities, the largest negative percentage difference relative to the intercensal population update based on the 2011 Census is observed in Köln (-5.9%) and the smallest in München (-2.0%). With regard to major towns and smaller cities, the population figure determined exceeds the figure previously assumed by 0.9% in the case of Dortmund and 1.8% in the case of Bremen. According to the 2022 Census, Germany now has 78 major towns and smaller cities that have a population of over 100,000.

Above-average differences for largest and smallest municipalities
Looking at Germany’s municipalities by size category, we see that the biggest corrections to the population figures are in the largest and the smallest municipality size class and exceed the national average. In the large municipalities with a population of 100,000 and more, there are 1.8% fewer inhabitants. In the small municipalities with a population of less than 10,000, the population count is 2.1% lower.

Above-average differences recorded for the foreign population
The differences in Germany between the census-based population figures and those derived from the intercensal population update primarily concern the foreign population. According to the 2022 Census, approximately 10.9 million foreigners were living in Germany on 15 May 2022 (Census Day). This is almost 1.0 million less than the figure from the intercensal population update officially quoted up to now. As a comparison: the population count in all of Germany is 1.4 million less than expected. Therefore, the non-German population accounts for roughly 71% of the difference.

This is likely attributable to the impact of the movement of refugees on the registration of foreign inhabitants as resident under Germany’s registration law. Individuals who registered as resident when they moved to Germany may already have left and moved away, for example back to their countries of origin, without this having been recorded by the authorities. The phenomenon that there is often no deregistration of foreign residents from the registration office when foreign nationals return to their home country is well-known from earlier population analyses.  On the other hand, people seeking protection who were already living in a municipality on Census Day may not yet have registered as resident.

In this regard, there are considerable differences between results at Land level and results at national level. On Census Day, Germany had 8.1% fewer foreign residents on average compared with the figures from the intercensal population update. The difference tends to be larger in the eastern than in the western Länder. With regard to the foreign population, the biggest negative percentage differences between the census-based figures and the intercensal population update are seen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (-24.4%) and Sachsen-Anhalt (-17.8%). In Saarland, the difference is only marginal (-0.2%). In Bremen, the number of foreign inhabitants determined is markedly higher (+4.4%) than the figure from the intercensal population update. As a result, the total population of Bremen is larger compared with the population update.

Methodological notes:
The Census is designed to provide nationally comparable results for a specific reference date while keeping the burden on respondents to a minimum. The 2022 Census was carried out using a register-assisted procedure, as was the 2011 Census. This means that existing administrative data were used - particularly from the population registers. The real estate owners to be surveyed were determined, for instance, on the basis of real property tax data. Where no or not enough administrative data were available or the data quality was insufficient, surveys were conducted to obtain the required data. Roughly 12% of the population were polled in the household survey. Approximately 23 million residential property owners provided information on their property for the census of buildings and housing, as did some 8,000 housing companies. For the first time, questions were asked in relation to the rent charged, the heating energy used and the reasons for dwelling vacancy and the vacancy duration. Information on the conduct of the 2022 Census is also provided in the Factsheet zum Ablauf der Befragungen.

More information:
These and other results of the 2022 Census can now be accessed at www.zensus2022.de. In the press section, you can find current information for the press, press releases, contacts, press photos and further downloads relating to the 2022 Census.

In addition to the data just released, the website provides:

  • Regional tables for download (in EXCEL format, including machine-readable tables). The regional tables contain data for regional levels - Germany, Länder, administrative regions, urban districts/towns not attached to an administrative district/rural districts, associations of municipalities, and municipalities. They cover the following five subject areas:
    1. Population figures
    2. Demographics
    3. Census of buildings and housing
    4. Education and employment
    5. Households and families
  • The Census Atlas, an interactive map which comprises results for the population, buildings and dwellings on the basis of grid cells (10 km, 1 km and 100 m).
    For the first four maps of the Census Atlas, tables to accompany the grid cells are available for download (in CSV format; 10 km, 1 km and 100 m grid). The topics are:
    1. Population
    2. Type of heating
    3. Energy source used for heating
    4. Net rent exclusive of heating expenses per square metre
    More maps and data sets at grid cell level will follow.
  • Podcasts, videos and animations with background information (for example about the benefits of the data)

The results will be published in other formats on a gradual basis. More results will be provided in the Census database from mid-July 2024, first on the subject areas of population (demographics), and buildings and dwellings. Data on households and families, education and employment and the new publication of the results for 2011 based on the territorial boundaries of 2022 will follow in a phased approach.

From approximately September 2024 onwards, the portfolio will be supplemented by the Census Results Portal. This portal provides low-threshold access and mainly features visual presentations for the various subject areas of the census at municipality level.

Links to all applications (Census Atlas, Census Database and Census Results Portal) will be provided at www.zensus2022.de once they are available. We will also notify all subscribers to our Census Newsletter about further additions to our website. You can register for the newsletter on our press page. At x.com/Zensus2022 we will also keep you abreast of our latest releases.

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, will publish the results of the European Censuses. The data of the 2022 Census for Germany will be available on their website according to Eurostat’s definitions and can be compared across Europe. The population data were recalculated to 31 December 2021 to make them comparable at European level.

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For further information:
Press office, Tel: +49 611 75 3444 (service number)

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