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Society

Enriching Diversity

Germany is defined by a pluralism of lifestyles. Demographic change is set to play a major role in the coming years.
Familie am Strand
© Getty Images

With some  83.1 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous nation in the European Union. The modern, cosmopolitan country has developed into an important immigration country.

Most people in Germany have a high standard of living, on an international comparison, and the corresponding freedom to shape their own lives. The United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) 2019 ranks Germany fourth of 189 countries. In the Nation Brands Index2019, an international survey on the image of 50 countries, Germany tops the scale for the third time in a row – and not only thanks to its high values in the areas of quality of life and social justice. Germany considers itself a welfare state, whose primary task is to protect all its citizens.

With pensions from age 63, the “superannuation for mothers”, and the new basic pension that will be introduced in 2021, the social security net has been strengthened still further.

Population according to migration status 2018 (in million)

Source: Destatis

Open society

German society is shaped by a pluralism of lifestyles and ethno-cultural diversity. Traditional gender role assignations are no longer rigid. As a result of inclusion measures, people with disabilities are taking an ever greater role in social life.

New ways of life and everyday realities are changing daily life in society. Legislation passed in recent years ensures social openness and acceptance, alternative ways of life and different sexual orientations. . It includes the introduction of “marriage for everyone”, which gives homosexual couples equal legal rights. In addition to male and female, as of the end of 2018 it has been possible for diverse to be given as one’s gender in the German birth register. This serves the equality of intersexual people.

Net immigration according to region of origin 2018

Source: BAMF

Opportunities for skilled workers

A good 20.8 million people in Germany have a migratory background. Germany is among those nations with liberal immigration laws. The Skilled Worker Immigration Act has been in force since March 2020 with a view to making immigration easier, in particular for qualified skilled workers from countries that are not a Member State of the European Union,. Germany is reliant on immigration, as in future demographic change is set to shape the country more than virtually any other development. The birth rate has recently edged up, but is still a comparatively modest 1.6 children per woman. Life expectancy is at the same time rising and currently stands at 81 years. By 2060 the population in Germany is estimated to shrink – depending on the scale of immigration to as low as 67.6 million according to the German Federal Statistical Office. At the same time, the growing number of elderly people is presenting social welfare systems with new challenges.

Socioeconomic change in Germany in recent years has led to the emergence of new social risks and stronger social diversification according to economic living conditions. Although in 2019 unemployment was at the same low level as in 1991 (on average 2.3 million), almost one in five in Germany is at risk of poverty, particularly young people, pensioners, and single parents. Moreover, social differences continue to exist between east and west.

Ever since the influx of refugees, which reached its peak in 2015, the Federal government’s refugee policy has been an issue that divides people. Between 2015 and 2019 some 1.8 million people applied for asylum in Germany, many of them seeking protection from armed conflicts and persecution.