Germany has been making false assumptions for decades – at least when it comes to the number of the country’s residents, foreigners and dwellings, reports Der Spiegel.

Apparently, these are the main results of a census conducted released Friday in Berlin. They offer the first concrete figures on a number of demographic issues since the German reunification of 1990. The last census in the former West Germany was in 1987, while the last one in the former East Germany took place in 1981.


The most glaring result: Germany’s population has shrunk from a previously estimated 81.7 million to 80.2 million, a difference of 1.5 million people, or about 1.8 percent of the population.

The biggest error that the new census has corrected were the estimates of how many foreigners reside in Germany. The census lowers this figure from 7.3 million to 6.2 million, a 14.9 percent drop.

But lest one presume that these foreigners are living on the margins of society, the census also found that 19 percent of the Germans have foreign roots, or what Germans call “immigration background.”

According to a press release by the Federal Statistical Office, these 15 million individuals are “all Germans who have immigrated to today’s territory of the Federal Republic of Germany after 1955, or who have at least one parent who immigrated (to Germany) after 1955.”

The highest proportions of the population with foreign roots were in the city-states of Hamburg (27.5 percent) and Berlin (23.9 percent), while the average in the five “new federal states,” formerly communist East Germany, was below 5 percent.