how long for Germans to go extinct?

There was an article in Der Spiegle this week about Germany’s crisis of too few births compared to people living too long and expecting pensions.

Now here is my question. Ignoring immigration from Turkey, and assuming a population of 78 million people, and about half that female population past fertile age – combined with a birthrate of only 1.1 children per woman per lifetime, what will Germany’s population be in 2100? When would Germany (at least ethnic Germans) actually be essentially extinct?

I don’t think that I will ignore the immigration from Turkey, although I remained ignorant of it until your post. Their offspring will become the new ethnic Germans.

Could you be more specific. Who is living too long?

Very approximately, the population will halve every generation. 78 million is approxiimately 2^27 so in 27 generations will be gone. You didn’t say what an average childbearing age was, so lets assume 30. Then in 27*30~1000 years.

Why answer then Zoe? If you have nothing in the way of answers to the question, and specifically ignore part of his presumptions for the question? Did you not understand the question?

With a birth rate of 1.1 I suppose they’ll halve each generation, while this’ll take a long time for them to go totally extinct, massive depopulation will happen surprisingly fast.

While it has nothing to do with the question, I think we both know he’s alluding to the fact that the current pension system in Germany (as well as most rest of Europe) is facing massive problems and is quite unsupportable with the dramatic skewing in the elder / younger percentages – something has got to give. But since you knew nothing of Turkish immigration in Germany, perhaps you were unaware of that as well?

  • Rune

Fertility rates in the developed world have been declining for some time now. Plenty of countries are below 2.1 births/woman, something known as the `replacement level’: Once you get below the replacement level, your population will begin to show a net decline if you discount confounding factors such as immigration. Malthusians are permitted to cry now.

Unsurprisingly, the developed world is the loss leader in fertility rates. Something about that Sexual Revolution thing, I’d bet. :wink: The Third and Fourth Worlds will lead the way in the population explosion, but the Population Bomb is seeming to have lost its desperate relevance. Surprisingly, the worldwide net fertility rate in 1995 was 2.9 births/woman. It was 5 births/woman in 1955, so in 40 years we’ve almost halved the rate and have come within spitting distance of the replacement level. Anyone remember that show ZPG? Here it comes.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I take heart at this news and I hope the pink goo goes from overpopulated and largely poor to comfortably underpopulated and largely wealthy. I don’t think I’ll live to see it, but with Lunar bases being mentioned in the Relevant Media even an old cynic can take heart.

<slight hijack>

Currently it’s fashionable to bash fundamental Islamic practices, but…

We should instead be thankful for those practices. Overpopulation is no longer any real concern, with Islam far and away the world’s fastest growing religion, already with over a billion members. In direct contradiction to Catholicism, it has its own built-in population control feature.

Suppose every “good” Muslim (those adhering 100% faithfully and unquestioningly to strict Islamic law) can, with or without killing themselves, take out 10 non-Muslims along with a handful of “bad” Muslims (who are the worst abomination on earth, according to Mohammed). In a reasonably short period of time, there will be nobody left but good Muslims–which is the stated aim of the religious doctrine, whether we like it or not. The human population of Earth will be far below what it is now, and thus far below what the planet can sustain. There will be plenty of space, plenty of oil and plenty of food for all. In short, Utopia.

So the next time you watch the latest bloodbath on CNN or read a thread about how much explosives it takes to blow human bodies to smithereens,…pause, face in the direction of Mecca and thank your lucky stars that someone has had the foresight to take care of things for the future of our world.

<tongue back out of cheek>

I think that being born in Germany doesn’t automatically make you ethnic German, though. So the Turkish immigration may be safe to ignore. Someone who knows for sure will be along shortly. I’m only interjecting because I seem to recall this being the case among the Turks when I was there in the 90’s.

hyjyljyj, your comments in this thread are unsolicited, and highly offensive.

If you repeat this behaviour in GQ, or for that matter anywhere on these boards, you will be banned without hesitation.

General Questions Moderator

List of fertility rates by country.

As that table shows, almost all developed countries have fertility rates below the replacement rate (which is usually estimated at 2.1). Germany, with 1.37 children per woman is at position 206 out of 225. What’s remarkable is that some almost exclusively Catholic countries like Poland (1.37) Italy and Spain (1.26) are also in that range.

The main problem in this is not so much a shrinking population as such (would be nice to have a bit more elbow room) but an ageing population caused by the lengthening of life expectancy and by those retiring in the next few decades having been born at a time of greater fertility.

One joke in the last decade has been on these lines:
In 2020 senior citizens will be allowed to cross the street on a red light.
In 2040 senior citizens will be required to cross the street on a red light.

Immigration does supply working-age people to pay for the pensioners, but it’s not a solution to the ageing of society because the immigrants eventually also become part of the retired population, and because from the second generation on their fertility rate quickly converges to the same low value (Turkish girls educated in Germany don’t relish the prospect of a traditional housewife’s life any more than their German contemporaries do).

On Balthisar’s remark: since the year 2000 immigrant children born in Germany of at least one parent with at least 8 years legal residence get citizenship at birth (but they lose it if they have not got rid of their other citizenship by age 23). Also naturalization has become much easier, but the number of applications has been below expectations - apparently of Turks living in Germany the disadvantages of not being a citizen of Turkey mostly outweigh the disadvantages of not being a citizen of Germany.

Thanks tschild, nice link. I knew that China was doing it’s bit to limit population growth, but was anyone else surprised at India? Of course, there’s a lot of women to apply that ~0.9 to, but even then it’s far lower than I’d expected.

99 India 2.91 2003 est.

27 generations is about six hundred years. Attempting to project population trends for even one tenth that length of time is utterly impossible. It is virtually certain that these trends won’t last, or that other concerns will trump them.

Indeed, it is quite possible that in a few hundred years the place where Germany is will still be populated, but the concept of Germany will be long dead. Not many people today talk about the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


In General Questions, I always ignore presumptions when they are based on cultural misconceptions.

My own thinking is not so far removed from RickJay’s in the scheme of things.

In General Questions, I always ignore presumptions when they are based on cultural misconceptions.

My own thinking is not so far removed from RickJay’s in the scheme of things.

RickJay is right about it being impossible to predict future trends. History shows people are nototriously bad at even predicting the future a few days in advance - see for an interesting critique on future speculation by author Michael Crichton.
The stuff in this speech is worth a debate all on its own I think.

Someone else thought as well.

I live in Japan, and the low birth rate is recognized as a big problem here. Basically, the population will be cut in half in 50 years, and already schools are finding they can’t get enough students to stay running.

Zoe, what cultural misconception? I think your initial response betrays a presumption of its own - that the OP was alluding to something potentially offensive by not including immigrant Turks in the equation. It was perhaps not the most clearly worded question, but Balthisar seems to have gotten his finger on it. I would read the OP’s question as: “When will the people who are ethnically German become so few and/or so assimilated with another people that they aren’t a culturally identifiable group any longer?” Legal citizenship as a German doesn’t come into this for newly arrived Turks and the first couple of generations of German-born Turks, if they haven’t been intermarrying and blending customs with the locals - they are still ethnically Turkish.

This touches on the discussions we’ve had here on the boards before, about whether there is such a thing as “ethnic American.” I know plenty of people (myself included), who are not far removed from immigrant pasts and consider ourselves to be ethnically something else, even though we are American citizens. Heck, Europe (and eastern Europe in particular - look at the Balkans) has a long (and unfortunately bloody) tradition of considering the ethnicity of a person rather than “nationality” or citizenship, precisely because political borders can change more rapidly than the cultures living within them.

It’s in this context that RickJay’s response is spot on, and there’s no need to read anything else into the question.

That is an extraordinary attitude. If you feel that there is some “cultural misconception” then you should address that independently.

The OP makes no claim that Turkish Germans won’t be the next “ethnic Germans”. He wants to know how long it would take a particular population group to “die out” at a given birthrate. It’s just maths. He could have mentioned any population and the maths would be the same.

I cannot understand your response or your attitude.

Zoe is right. Don’t use to push a thinly disguised agenda.

Actually this is quite surprisingly, historical speaking. Didn’t most scientists from Malthus to the Roman club think it’d be the other way round?

I don’t really know what you mean by that sentence? What is pink goo? Do you think Europe is “overpopulated and largely poor”, or just overpopulated? I’m European I don’t find it particular overpopulated here, nor for that matter especially poor. Anyway your statement seems to indicate that you think there is a direct link between population size or density and wealth. I suggest reality is a bit more complex than that. Japan is not known for their low population density, nor their poverty. Europe is the densest (population wise!) continent on the planet. As well as the richest. Africa is a lot less densely populated as well as a lot poorer. Europe’s looming populating crunch, will not make Europeans any richer and the world poorer. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Ethnic Germans are all over the map. That’s one of the reasons they’ve been so much trouble over the centuries, as well as the reason there are so many names for Germans (Deutsche, Allemands (all men), Tyskere, Tedeschi, etc). Austrians are ethnic Germans. There are historic ethnic German populations in (what is now) France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech republic, Denmark and Russian since Peter the Great or Katarina and a good deal of other places I’d imagine (Minnesota perhaps). Turks immigrating to Germany will be German nationalities, but not necessary ethnic German in the traditional sense of that word.

A part of the very low birth rate of those catholic countries (Spain, Italy etc.) can likely be explained as postponed children, rather than wholly foregone children (in that the shift to later motherhood is one, these countries are undergoing now). So one should expect the birth rate to rise again some time – though not above replacement level.

Pensioner problems is certainly the worst short term problem. And only massive as well as continuous immigration will help that problem. A recent study in Denmark showed second generation immigrant women to have only 0.1 higher fertility than ethnic Danes (amazingly successful integration). But since what seems to be projected is not small scale gradual population decline but disastrous precipitous fall, I think there could be some more things worth discussing before declaring everything swell and well.

Btw. Your link showed my family home, Faeroe Islands, to be the only Western nation with substantial above replacement level fertility. Not much to do there, except fish and make babies (preferable at the same time) I guess.

Of course it’s impossible to predict the future. No reason not to try. Anyway the consequences will be felt a lot sooner that the 27th generation. The first will do for that. In Denmark we’re talking about 2015-2020 as the years when the baby crunch will start to hurt real bad. Planning for that is not only a theoretical exercise – it’s an absolute necessity.

I think your analogue is flawed. Austro-Hungarian Empire was an empire consisting of many different cultures and nationalities. Both Austria and Hungary, as well as all the others inside Austro-Hungarian Empire, exists today. A better analogue would be something like the American east cost Indians, or the Aztecs. Thriving cultures today extinct. We may not give much thought to them, but that’s hardly something to rejoice in. Living in a country that has repeatedly been ravished by German barbarian hordes, I still have no problem seeing the many things Germany history and culture has to enrich the world with. And the immensity of loss should this great culture vanish or severely weakened. (Even the German language, often ridiculed. I had a girlfriend from Berlin once, called Ute. A silly name for a beautiful girl, who could say things in German I didn’t think could be said in any language.)

Yeah, ok Zoe, sorry for bringing in the inquisition. It’s just that I’ve seen accusations of racism pop up so often when the question of Europe’s looming population implosion is brought up (is that you handsomeharold?). Hopefully it’s all hot air like the population bomb, but I think it’s possible to be worried without being a neo-Nazi. Also to me the OP sounded like straightforward mathematical curiosity, not stranger than much else in GQ.

Anyway, I think I have burdened you with my obnoxious views on this subject more than enough already.

  • Rune