More name changes, less immigration: The surprising (and unsurprising) stats from Denmark’s Covid-19 crisis

A new publication from Statistics Denmark (DST) has shed light on a number of population trends during the coronavirus epidemic in the Scandinavian country.

More name changes, less immigration: The surprising (and unsurprising) stats from Denmark's Covid-19 crisis
File photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

While closed borders unsurprisingly resulted in fewer people moving to Denmark, other statistics are less predictable — such as a significant increase in the number of people who changed their first names.

The publication, “Covid-19 i befolknings- og kriminalitetsstatistikken i 2020” (Covid-19 in population and crime statistics in 2020) was released by the agency on Wednesday.

Last year saw 29 percent more people change their first names than the average for the period 2015-2019, according to the report.

“Why the lockdown apparently has affected the number of name changes, we can only speculate about. But since the trend in 2020 was so marked, we have decided to include it in this publication,” DST writes in the report.

A total of 5,932 people changed their first names in 2020. The average for the preceding 5 years was around 4,600 name changes annually.

The majority of those who decided to change their names were women, who comprise 3,827 of the 5,932 alterations.

Most of the changes took place in months after the initial coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, according to DST.

Meanwhile, the total number of foreigners who immigrated to Denmark fell in 2020 by 30 percent. For April and May, the decrease was as high as 81 and 77 percent respectively.

Emigration’s also fell last year, by 13 percent.

The number of Danes who moved back home increased by 84 percent in March as the government encouraged its foreign based nationals to return home. But the overall level of returning Danes was similar to that in previous years.

The population grew by 0.29 percent throughout the year, or around 17,000 people. That is a similar rate to the one recorded in 2019, but slightly under the average of 0.5 percent for the prior 5 years.

Lower immigration (due to travel restrictions) is the likeliest cause for this drop, DST writes.

Divorces increased by five percent compared to the average rate for the years 2015-2019.

That number could reflect a strain on households caused by home working and lockdowns introduced in response to the pandemic.

Another statistic which is perhaps easier to directly connect to the fact people were at home more is the drop in break-ins.

As many as 29 percent fewer homes were broken into in 2020 compared to the preceding five-year average.

A total of 54,645 people died in Denmark last year, a slightly higher figure than that for 2019, which stood at 53,958. Seen as a measure of population size, the death rate remained stable at approximately 10 deaths per 1,000 residents in the country.

But DST found that deaths were notably higher in the winter months of late 2020 and early 2021 than they were 12 months prior.

For both years, more people died in wintertime than during the summer, which is an established trend.

The relatively high number of deaths during the 2020/21 winter season “could possibly be related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the DST report states.

January 2021 was the month in which Denmark recorded the highest number of deaths related to Covid-19, with 817 registered during that month. December 2020 was the second highest, with 490.

READ ALSO: Denmark expects twice as many people over 80 years old in 2050

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Germany’s weekly Covid infection rate rises above 500

Germany recorded a weekly Covid incidence of more than 500 per 100,000 people on Monday as health experts warn that the fifth wave of the pandemic has only just begun.

Bar in Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, which has the highest incidence in the country.
People sit outside bars in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, where incidences are currently the highest in the country. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

On Monday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 528, up from 515 the day before and 376 a week ago. 

Infections have been rising rapidly as the highly transmissible Omicron variant tightens its hold in Germany. Monday marked the fourth day in a row in which the country posted record incidences.

Since the first incidence of the variant was discovered in the country around seven weeks ago, Omicron has swiftly taken over as the dominant variant in Germany.

It currently accounts for around 73 percent of Covid infections and is expected to almost entirely replace the Delta variant this week. 

Though Omicron generally causes a less severe illness than Delta, experts are concerned that deaths and hospitalisations could remain high due to the unprecedented number of cases Germany could see.

Unlike Delta, Omicron has a large number of mutations that allow it to evade previously built up immunity through vaccinations and illness. 

The World Health Organisation has warned that half of all Europeans could be infected with the virus by spring. 

“After the temporary decline in case numbers, severe disease courses and deaths towards the end of 2021 in the fourth wave, the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has begun in Germany with the dominant circulation of the omicron variant,” the Robert Koch Institute wrote in its weekly report on Thursday.  

Since the first Omicron case was discovered in Germany, there have been 191,422 suspected or proven cases of the variant.

As Welt data journalist Olaf Gersemann pointed out in Twitter, the number of Omicron cases has increased sixfold within a fortnight. 

Increase in hospitalisations

Before this weekend, Germany had hit its previous peak of infections back in November, when the country posted a 7-day incidence of 485 per 100,000 people at during the peak of the fourth wave.

Since then, Covid measures such contact restrictions and blanket 2G (entry only for the vaccinated and recovered) or 2G-plus (vaccinated or recovered with a negative test) have been relatively effective at turning the tide. 


For the past few weeks however, infections have been on the up once again as the Omicron fifth wave begins.

The incidence of hospitalisations in the country appears to also be on the rise again after a few weeks of decline. On Friday, the 7-day incidence of hospitalisations stood at 3.24 per 100,000 people, up from 3.13 the day before.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned that Omicron could place additional pressure on the general hospital wards as fewer people end up in intensive care. 

“Depending on how things develop, we may face shortages not only in the intensive care units, but also in the normal wards. There is a threat of entire departments being closed,” he said.

“Rapid spread of the virus would mean hundreds of thousands will become seriously ill and we will have to mourn many thousands of deaths again.” 

Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at a weekly press conference on Friday, January 14th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Northern states post record incidences

Since the start of the Omicron wave, northern Germany has been disproportionately affected by the virus.

As of Monday, the city-state of Bremen had the highest incidence in the country, with 1389 new cases per 100,000 people recorded in a week.

This was followed by Berlin, which currently has a 7-day incidence of 948, and Hamburg, which recorded a 7-day incidence of 806. The district with the highest incidence in Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which posted a weekly incidence of 1597 on Monday. 

In contrast to the fourth wave, the lowest Covid incidences were recorded in the eastern states of Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. 

On Monday, Thuringia had a weekly incidence of 198 per 100,000 people, while Saxony’s incidence was 249 and Saxony-Anhalt’s was 280.

Somewhat inexplicably, the incidence has been declining in Thuringia in recent weeks, though there is speculation that this could be to do with the fact that Omicron has not yet spread in the state.

Nine of the sixteen German states have incidences of more than 500 per 100,000 people.