German population at record high, but growth slowest since 2012

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s population reached a record high of 83.2 million people last year thanks to migration but it grew at the slowest pace since 2012, the statistics office said on Friday as Europe’s largest economy experiences a chronic birth deficit.

Germany has one of the oldest populations in the world and has recorded more deaths than births ever since 1972. The aging population is a challenge for the country’s public pension system and is causing headaches for companies eager to hire skilled workers.

The number of people living in Germany grew by around 200,000 year-on year, according to the initial estimate by the statistics office.

Net migration was estimated at between 300,000 and 350,000 in 2019 after close to 400,000 in the previous year. That marks a decline for the fourth consecutive year, the statistics office added.

More than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and beyond have flocked to Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to them in 2015. Many of them have been attracted by Germany’s robust economy, its relatively liberal asylum laws and generous system of benefits.

(Reporting by Thomas Seythal; Editing by Michelle Martin)