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Everyone is eager to know the numbers of inhabitants

What are up-to-date numbers of inhabitants needed for?

The numbers of inhabitants of the Federation, Länder and municipalities are of major importance for many societal decisions. They are required for many laws and ordinances and are the basis for many important socio-political decisions. The equalisation of revenue between Länder and/or municipalities, the delimitation of constituencies for Bundestag elections, the weight of Länder votes in the Bundesrat or Germany’s number of seats in the European Parliament – all those issues depend on the current numbers of inhabitants. Also, many official statistics are based on the numbers of inhabitants, for example, the microcensus and the annual gross domestic product per capita. So it is not surprising that people are eager to know those results.

When were the figures last determined?

The last complete survey for the former territory of the Federal Republic was conducted in 1987, in the German Democratic Republic a population census was held in 1981. Since then, the statistical offices have applied the statistical method of intercensal population estimates to obtain current official numbers of inhabitants. However, this method gets more inaccurate the older the underlying basic data are. A lot has happened since the last population censuses were conducted. The Berlin Wall came down, many people have moved especially from eastern to western Germany, and European integration has progressed rapidly.

Currently – as shown by the census test of 2001 – the number of inhabitants of Germany is probably overestimated by about 1.3 million people. This has different effects, depending on the region, because the overestimate is larger for some towns than for others. It may also happen that a number of inhabitants from intercensal estimates is lower than the actual number. This will be taken into account for the future distribution of tax revenues.

For comparison, the equalisation of revenue was substantially corrected after the population census of 1987. As early as in the first year after the population census, the equivalent of almost 1 billion euros was redistributed. This means that the last population census led to more distributional justice here.

Who is counted as an inhabitant?

All people who have their sole or main residence in Germany and who are obliged to register here are counted as inhabitants. Other people counted are members of the Federal Armed Forces, the police authorities and the foreign service who work abroad and their families. Members of foreign armed forces, of diplomatic missions and consular posts are not part of the population. People living abroad for a long time or permanently are counted as inhabitants of the host country.

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