About every fifth person in Germany is of retirement age. But the 65 generation does not live evenly. Germany is aging at different speeds. Your region is so badly affected by demographic change.

A chasm stretches across Germany that can best be described with a number: ten years and almost five months – that’s the difference between the average age of the population in Heidelberg am Neckar and Suhl in the Thuringian Forest. Suhl is the oldest of the administrative districts and urban districts in Germany, while Heidelberg is the youngest.

At first glance, it may seem irrelevant whether the average age of the citizens in a place is more than 50 or just over 40. But these figures tell of a vicious circle between economic decline and young people fleeing – and pose enormous challenges for some communities.

For years there have been indications that Germany is becoming more and more a land of the elderly. Even young immigrants from abroad have been unable to stop this trend. On the map of the Federal Republic of Germany you can still see exactly where the German-German border used to be.

!function(){var t=window.addEventListener?”addEventListener”:”attachEvent”;(0,window[t])(“attachEvent”==t?”onmessage”:”message”,function(t){if(“string”==typeof t.data

In Frankfurt am Main, in Freising at Munich Airport and also in the rural district of Vechta in Lower Saxony, in 2020 just one in six or seven people was 65 years old or older. This is the result of figures from the Federal Statistical Office.

!function(){var t=window.addEventListener?”addEventListener”:”attachEvent”;(0,window[t])(“attachEvent”==t?”onmessage”:”message”,function(t){if(“string”==typeof t.data

In Suhl and Dessau-Roßlau (Saxony-Anhalt), on the other hand, almost every third resident was of retirement age, and the situation was similar in Altenburger Land and in the Vogtland district.

!function(){var t=window.addEventListener?”addEventListener”:”attachEvent”;(0,window[t])(“attachEvent”==t?”onmessage”:”message”,function(t){if(“string”==typeof t.data

There are several reasons for the large regional differences: on the one hand, structurally weak regions are often relatively old, because when young people leave, the next generation of parents is missing. This applies particularly, if not only, to the East German regions of Germany.

Here, after reunification, the number of births fell across the board, while at the same time young people migrated westwards in search of work and better prospects for the future. In the meantime there is growth again in the structurally stronger regions around Dresden, Leipzig, Jena and Potsdam – but only where the economy is booming.

On the other hand, medium-sized university towns in particular benefit from the education-related influx of young people and therefore have an above-average young population. Likewise, big cities are more likely to attract young people. But in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, countries with many Dax companies and many well-paid jobs, there are also fewer pensioners in percentage terms.

Germany has grown old – and will become even older in the years to come. Demographic change not only threatens our prosperity, but is also a challenge for our healthcare system and our social interaction. In our multimedia special “Silver Society” we deal with the mega trend and pursue the pressing questions of how we can honestly and together overcome the problems that need to be solved – and what constitutes a life worth living in old age.

!function(){var t=window.addEventListener?”addEventListener”:”attachEvent”;(0,window[t])(“attachEvent”==t?”onmessage”:”message”,function(t){if(“string”==typeof t.data

In the future, however, the economically strong regions in the south will also feel the increasing aging of our society, since a disproportionately large number of baby boomers are employed there and will gradually retire.

In the past, many of them were attracted by good job offers from other parts of Germany. These areas can expect a massive wave of retirement. Bavarian districts such as Freising or Erding, which are among the most prosperous in the republic, must expect an increase in retirees of more than 50 percent by 2035, according to the analysis “The Demographic Situation of the Nation” by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development.

The forecast by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development also predicts that almost two-thirds of German rural districts and urban districts could have fewer inhabitants in 2040 than in 2017. Nationwide, the population will “only” decline due to the strong immigration of the recent past by one percent is expected, but this has hardly stopped the aging of the population.

The number of newborns has increased slightly again: the number of children per woman was 1.58 last year, after initially declining after reunification, in 1994 it was 1.24. In order to keep the population stable in the long term, statistically speaking, a woman would have to have an average of 2.1 children.

The strongest growth of up to 16 percent is expected for the area around Munich. In contrast, numerous East German districts could lose more than a fifth of their population by 2040. The regional differences and the challenges to ensure equal living conditions are thus increasing. As always, economically strong sectors and regions can react better to the shortage with good salaries. This in turn will be at the expense of other regions.

The regional demographic trends of the past – shrinking rural, peripheral and structurally weak areas, growth in economically strong conurbations – are continuing. That’s no wonder either, because the assumptions of forecasts are largely based on previous developments. Accordingly, a demographic recovery is unlikely, particularly in many eastern German regions, unless local authorities take massive countermeasures.