This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

German Census 2011 Results Are Out

Germany today revealed the results of its 2011 census of population, the first complete enumeration in the country since reunification. Because of concerns over privacy, Germans had been relying since 1987 on population registers and sample surveys instead of censuses, as have several other European countries, but the European Union adopted a policy encouraging all member states to conduct censuses of population and housing in 2011 and Germany stepped up to do that. Even before the census, German officials were concerned that they were overestimating Germany's population, and the census data confirmed that fact, as noted in today's New York Times:
Germany, a country already deeply concerned about its rapidly dwindling population, released the results of its first census in nearly a quarter of a century and found 1.5 million fewer inhabitants than previously assumed.
German officials believed that the registries kept by all municipalities gave them a good idea how many residents they had. But foreigners who registered when they moved in, as required, apparently were leaving the country without ever unregistering from their apartments. In the process they created what statisticians here call “card-index corpses,” phantom residents who lived on in the records long after having departed the country.
Of course, the census was conducted in 2011, and since then there have been issues in southern Europe (as well as in North Africa) that have led some to believe that a lot immigrants might be headed to Germany, as reported by the Telegraph last December. Indeed, instead of the population "shortfall," today's Telegraph was more interested in the continuing demographic divide between east and west Germany:
The census figures underlined the extent to which young people have deserted east Germany. The country’s eastern states have a higher share of over-65s, ranging from 22.1 per cent in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, to nearly a quarter of the population in Saxony. In the west, the proportion of over-65s in the population ranges from 19.4 per cent to 22.1 per cent. Many of those who have left the east in the past decades are young women of childbearing age. Germany as a whole has an ageing population; there are 17 million people over 65 compared with just 12.6 million children, according to the census gathered in May 2011.
Nearly one in five of the German population has a migrant background, according to the census, despite the fact that until recently politicians have insisted that Germany is “not a country of immigration”. The east is far less racially diverse than the west, reflecting the fact that economic opportunity is concentrated in the south and west.

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