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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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Is Germany Securing its Demographic Future?

Germany has announced that it expects to accept 800,000 refugees by the end of this year, and around 500,000 per year for "several years," Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said, as reported by CNN. This is clearly an enormous humanitarian effort and, despite the publicized xenophobia, Germans appear to be generally supportive of the government's actions. A story in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that, despite anti-immigrant protests:
...such incidents have been drowned out in recent days by the numerous accounts and images of ordinary Germans turning out in droves to help the newcomers in their midst. 
In Munich, such efforts shifted into high gear at a donation bank, where half a dozen people sorted through heaps of clothing, toys, bicycles and bedding earmarked for refugees. The welcoming attitude was particularly noteworthy in a city that has long had to live with the stigma of being the birthplace of the Nazi Party. 
"This is the nicer side of Germany you are seeing," said retired banker Eddie Lauer, 64.
Germany is currently a country with 81 million, so we are talking about new migrants accounting for less than 1% of the total each year. Small enough to be absorbed by a country that has nonetheless had a fairly large immigrant population (including Turks, Afghans, Vietnamese, and many others) for a long time. But also large enough to make a demographic difference in an otherwise aging society. The UN's latest population projections suggest that by 2050 Germany's population could be down to 75 million, and then down to 63 million by the end of the century. So, you can see where we're going with this. On its own, Germany would not likely have upped the number of immigrants that it accepted, no matter what the long-term benefit might be. But, under these unusual humanitarian circumstances they are taking people in. These are largely people of working and reproductive age. They are obviously highly motivated and creative--think of what it must take to find the money to pay human traffickers and find the courage to make a genuinely perilous journey as an alternative to the peril of not doing so. 

Even at this moment, I can imagine John Wilmoth and his group at the UN's Population Division rethinking those projections for Germany...


  1. Good material, thank you. Here is another point of view focusing on the religious aspects of this shift:

  2. Also, I know that you don't focus much on religious conversion, but I thought you might find this article on the substantial shift among Iranians from Shi'a Islam to Christianity since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.