Here’s how many people in Germany have a migrant background

An increasing number of people in Germany have migrant roots or is a migrant themselves, according to the latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office, Destatis.

Here's how many people in Germany have a migrant background
Archive photo shows people walking in Mönckebergstraße, Hamburg. Photo: DPA

The proportion of people with a migration background in Germany is continuing to increase – but growth is slowing down, the new figures show.

According to Destatis, the number rose last year to 21.2 million people – or 26 percent of the population, which currently stands at about 83 million.

The number was a record high. However the increase in 2019 was 2.1 percent – the lowest level since 2011. In 2018 the figure was 20.8 million people.

Someone is considered to have a migrant background if they or at least one parent was born without German citizenship.

READ ALSO: How Germany plans to fight worker shortage with new immigration law

Of the 21.2 million, almost two-thirds (65 percent) – or 13.8 million people – have a migration background in another European country. Of those, 7.5 million have roots in other EU member states.

A total of 4.6 million people, or 22 percent, have roots in Asia, of which 3.2 million have a connection to the Middle East.

According to the data, almost one million people (five percent) have roots in Africa.

Around 568,000 people (three percent) have a migration background in North, Central and South America and Australia.

A total of 13 percent have roots in Turkey, followed by Poland (11 percent) and Russia (seven percent).

More than half in cleaning jobs have migration background

In view of the coronavirus crisis, researchers placed a special focus this year on jobs. They found people with a migration background were overrepresented in frontline jobs where the risk of contracting Covid-19 is higher.

According to the survey, 55 percent of all employees in cleaning occupations had a migration background in 2019, with 38 percent working in warehouses (including mail and delivery and goods handling) and 38 percent in food and drink production.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of those employed in the care of the elderly had a migration background. Migrants and those with a migrant background were also slightly overrepresented in the sale of food in relation to the total population (28 percent).

By contrast, people with a migration background were underrepresented in medical health care professions (21 percent), in teaching at schools (11 percent) and in the police and criminal investigation services as well as the courts and prisons (7 percent).

The statistics, which are put together every year, were extrapolated from a micro-census which was undertaken in a select number of German households.

Number of migrants set to rise in Germany

In the next two decades every third person in Germany will have migrant roots or be a migrant themselves, according to experts.

By 2040, about 35 percent of Germany's population will have a migration background, according to Herbert Brücker, who is in charge of the migration research department at the Federal Institute for Employment Research (IAB).

Brücker told German daily Welt last November that the country “will become more diverse”.

READ ALSO: One in three people in Germany 'will have migrant background in 20 years'


He said: “Currently, about a quarter of the people in Germany have a migrant background. In 20 years, it will be at least 35 percent, but could also be more than 40 percent.”


Migration background – (der) Migrationshintergrund

Inhabitants/citizens – (die) Einwohner

Roots – (die) Wurzeln

Overrepresented – überrepräsentiert

Underrepresented –  unterrepräsentiert

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Germany mulls expulsions to Afghanistan after knife attack

Germany said Tuesday it was considering allowing deportations to Afghanistan, after an asylum seeker from the country injured five and killed a police officer in a knife attack.

Germany mulls expulsions to Afghanistan after knife attack

Officials had been carrying out an “intensive review for several months… to allow the deportation of serious criminals and dangerous individuals to Afghanistan”, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told journalists.

“It is clear to me that people who pose a potential threat to Germany’s security must be deported quickly,” Faeser said.

“That is why we are doing everything possible to find ways to deport criminals and dangerous people to both Syria and Afghanistan,” she said.

Deportations to Afghanistan from Germany have been completely stopped since the Taliban retook power in 2021.

But a debate over resuming expulsions has resurged after a 25-year-old Afghan was accused of attacking people with a knife at an anti-Islam rally in the western city of Mannheim on Friday.

A police officer, 29, died on Sunday after being repeatedly stabbed as he tried to intervene in the attack.

Five people taking part in a rally organised by Pax Europa, a campaign group against radical Islam, were also wounded.

Friday’s brutal attack has inflamed a public debate over immigration in the run up to European elections and prompted calls to expand efforts to expel criminals.

READ ALSO: Tensions high in Mannheim after knife attack claims life of policeman

The suspect, named in the media as Sulaiman Ataee, came to Germany as a refugee in March 2013, according to reports.

Ataee, who arrived in the country with his brother at the age of only 14, was initially refused asylum but was not deported because of his age, according to German daily Bild.

Ataee subsequently went to school in Germany, and married a German woman of Turkish origin in 2019, with whom he has two children, according to the Spiegel weekly.

Per the reports, Ataee was not seen by authorities as a risk and did not appear to neighbours at his home in Heppenheim as an extremist.

Anti-terrorism prosecutors on Monday took over the investigation into the incident, as they looked to establish a motive.