Goethe Institut
Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes is the largest organisation promoting German cultural and educational policy abroad. The fusion of the Goethe-Institut and Inter Nationes in January 2001 has resulted in a network of 3,100 employees working at 141 cultural institutions in 77 countries.

The Institut plans and organises events focusing on the arts, society, education, science and research, the media and information. Some 175,000 students attend German language courses at the Institut’s colleges in Germany and abroad each year.

The Goethe-Institut is financed by the German foreign ministry, the German government press office and by a number of sponsors as well as from income from its own activities. The organisation's annual revenues for 2001 amounted to 242 million euro, around a third of which was generated by the Institut itself.

Goethe Institut
Dachauer Straße 122
80637 München
Tel: +49 89 1 59 21-0
Fax: +49 89 1 59 21-4 50
Internet: www.goethe.de

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Southern German cities are
winning the battle for people

A report by the Goethe Institut

16 June 2003: The all-time low number of births is having some unusual repercussions: Germany’s regional capitals are actually competing for people! Cities in the south and west of the country are doing well, whereas cities in the east and north are less fortunate. According to a study commissioned by the Institute for Business Research in Cologne, the clear winner of this migration within Germany is Munich and the clear loser is Berlin.

The number of Germans is falling dramatically because of a declining birth rate. Since the 1960s, the number of children born in Germany each year has fallen by nearly half to 734,000. And there is no prospect of an increase in that figure. After all, where shall the parents of 20 or 30 years hence come from if they are not being born now?

The Statistical Office of Baden-Württemberg forecasts that in the future one woman in three will decide not to have children at all.

Some regions will overcome this loss of life-blood by means of immigration. Others will attract people from neighbouring regions – a process already in full swing. Regions offering work and a pleasant environment have been seeing a strong population growth in recent times, while crisis regions are losing out.

A demographic comparison of the German regional capitals carried out for the Institute for Business Research in Cologne reflects these trends. With the exceptions of Munich, Dresden, Düsseldorf and Wiesbaden, all the regional capitals lost inhabitants between 1995 and 2000. The capitals of the Länder (states) in eastern Germany saw the greatest losses. Depletion was heaviest in Schwerin and Magdeburg, with their populations declining by more than ten per cent. But in purely mathematical terms, whole parts of Berlin, too, are becoming depopulated, and Berlin was the city to lose most inhabitants in absolute terms: 140,000.

In eastern Germany, young people are moving away and old people are staying. That is the sad reality, particularly for Schwerin and Magdeburg, where the number of people dying is considerably higher than the number being born. In no other German regional capital is the number of deaths so much higher than the number of births.

For Magdeburg – it shrank by 26,000 inhabitants in the second half of the nineties – there is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. It was the only regional capital where there was an increase – by ten per cent - in the population of three to six year-olds. From the mid-nineties onwards, it seems that those who have remained there have had more children.

Elsewhere, too, women in the east seem to be hearing the clock ticking. Many want to catch up on what they postponed just after the Wall came down – having children. As a result, the number of children aged up to three in Magdeburg has increased by 70 per cent since 1995 and in Dresden and Potsdam by 50 per cent.

However, it is likely that the new fertility of east German city dwellers will be likely to benefit the west rather than the east of the country in the medium term. Until there is a fundamental improvement in the employment situation between the Baltic Sea and the Erzgebirge, the south-westerly migration will continue.

Cynics are already saying that the future of the east lies in nature reserves and old people's homes. There is a grain of truth in this statement, but even the west has no reason to gloat. The average age of the population has risen in all the regional capitals.

The regional capitals in eastern Germany have greyed three times as quickly as their counterparts in western Germany. Yet the old Federal Länder live up to their name, as the average age of the population is 42.8 in Düsseldorf, the second-oldest city in Germany, and Bremen has the third-oldest average population, at 42.7 years. They are surpassed only by Magdeburg, where the average age of the population of 43.7 years. (Sources: Goethe Institute, German Statistical Office and German Institute for Business Research)

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