Population study: cities grow – counties shrink

Population study: cities grow - counties shrink

The population of major cities and their surrounding areas has grown significantly in recent years, while it has shrunk in some rural areas far from urban centers.

As the federal institute for research on building, urban affairs and spatial development (BBSR) announced in bonn on tuesday, 282 of the 401 districts and independent cities in germany increased their population between 2010 and 2016. Many rural areas also had more inhabitants, but in the already sparsely populated counties, the population declined even further.

On the plus side are the 66 independent metropolitan areas, which together grew by 1.35 million inhabitants – or 5.9 percent – between 2010 and 2016. By way of comparison: between 2000 and 2010, only 240,000 new residents were added to the population. "Apart from a few exceptions in the ruhr region, all of the major cities in the region recorded an increase in population between 2010 and 2016," states the federal institute BBSR as the result of its study.

The increase was particularly strong in leipzig (13.7 percent), darmstadt (11.4), munster (10.8) and frankfurt am main (+10.7). The number of inhabitants also rose sharply in the areas surrounding germany’s seven largest cities. The top performers were the counties of ebersberg, munchen landkreis, freising, erding and furstenfeldbruck, which border the metropolis of munich, with an increase of around 8 to 9 percent.

For the rural districts as a whole, the BBSR paints the following picture: around half of them had an increase in population, but some districts that were already thinly populated continued to lose inhabitants. The decline was particularly pronounced in some eastern regions such as mansfeld-sudharz and anhalt-bitterfeld in saxony-anhalt, as well as in the altenburger land region of thuringia, where the average age was around 6 percent. The institute also identified a clear downward trend of between around 3 and 4 percent in the bavarian town of wunsiedel, cochem in rhineland-palatinate and holzminden in lower saxony.

And how about the age structure? "The major cities in particular are benefiting from the influx of young people," the BBSR described. The average age there is 42.4 years. In rural counties, residents are 45.2 years old on average.

The youngest populations are in the university cities of heidelberg (39.7 years) and freiburg (39.9 years). In the areas surrounding the metropolises – such as freising, erding and tubingen – the population is also comparatively young. One reason: many families with children live in the immediate vicinity of the city.

According to BSSR data, the average age in the rural area is far from being high everywhere. However, in the less sought-after rural areas, the population is already comparatively old – with an average of around 49 years in the counties of mansfeld-sudharz, wittenberg in saxony-anhalt or oberspreewald-lausitz in brandenburg.

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