Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 25, Issue 5–6, pp 465–477 | Cite as

An American in Berlin: reflections on the German demographic challenge, immigration, and national identity

  • Michelle Behr
Original Paper


The “German Demographic Challenge”—an aging society, low birth rates, a falling population size, and a shrinking working-age population—also affects less tangible facets of Germany’s future because these issues may have implications for how Germans see themselves and how they define themselves as a nation-state. This paper explores the complex relationships between national identity, migration, and other population processes in the German context. One consequence of the demographic challenge, acting in concert with immigration, is that the German population will become more diverse over time. Perhaps the more difficult challenge will be how Germany comes to terms with itself given the population changes it will experience.


Germany Demographic challenge National identity Immigration 


  1. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined communities (revised edition). London, England: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Bade, K. (2000). Germany and migration. Deutschland (June 2000). Retrieved 7 October 2003 from
  3. Brüninger, D., Gräf, B., Gruber, K., Neuhaus, M., & Schneider, S. (2002). The demographic challenge. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Deutsche Bank Research.Google Scholar
  4. Castles, S., & Miller, M. J. (1998). The age of migration: International population movements in the modern world (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dietz, B. (2002). East west migration patterns in an enlarging Europe: The German case. The Global Review of Ethnopolitics, 2(1), 29–43.Google Scholar
  6. Enquete Commission. (2002). Demographic change: Challenges posed by our ageing society to citizens and policy-makers, final report. German Bundestag, 14th Legislative Period, Document 14/8800, Berlin.Google Scholar
  7. Federal Law Gazette (2004) Part 1, Number 41, Act to Control and Restrict Immigration and to Regulate the Residence and Integration of EU Citizens and Foreigners (Immigration Act) of 30 July 2004. Retrieved 15 February 2005 from,templateld=raw,property=publicationFile.pdf/Zuwanderungsgesetz_englisch.
  8. Federal Statistical Office (2003). In the spotlight: Population of Germany today and tomorrow. Wiesbaden, Germany: Statistisches Bundesamt.Google Scholar
  9. Germany: Immigration Law? (2000). Migration News 7(7) (July). Retrieved 13 October 2003 from Scholar
  10. German Consulate, United States (nd) General information on German citizenship--FAQs. Retrieved 11 October 2003 from Scholar
  11. Green, S. (2001). Immigration, asylum and citizenship in Germany: The impact of unification and the Berlin Republic. West European Politics, 24(4), 82–104.Google Scholar
  12. Harris, P. A. (2000). Imagined identity: Immigration, Überfremdung, and cultural chauvinism in German far-right partisan discourse. German Policy Studies, 1(3), 331–346.Google Scholar
  13. Hoffman, G. (2004) The road is clear. Deutschland (July 2004) Retrieved 27 February 2005 from
  14. Independent Commission on Migration to Germany. (2001). Structuring immigration—Fostering integration. July 2001. Berlin, Germany: German Federal Ministry of the Interior.Google Scholar
  15. Interview with Rita Süssmuth. (2000). Deutschland (June 2000). Retrieved 7 October 2003 from
  16. Joppke, C., & Morawska, E. (Eds.). (2003). Toward assimilation and citizenship: Immigrants in liberal nation-states. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Kastoryano, R. (2002). Citizenship: Beyond blood and soil. In: R. Leveau, K. Mohsen-Finan, & C. Wihtol de Wenden (Eds.), New European identity and citizenship (pp. 101–116). Aldershot, England: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  18. Koopmans, R. (1999). Germany and its immigrants: An ambivalent relationship. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 25(4), 627–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kurthen, H. (1995). Germany at the crossroads: National identity and the challenges of immigration. International Migration Review, 29(4), 914–938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Laurence, J. (1999). (Re)constructing community in Berlin: Of Jews, Turks and German responsibility. Discussion Paper FS III 99-102. Berlin, Germany: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin.Google Scholar
  21. Lederer, H. W., Rau, R., & Rühl, S. (1999). Migration review 1999. Bamberg, Germany: European Forum for Migration Studies.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, P. L. (1998). Germany: Reluctant land of immigration. AICGS German Issues 21. Washington, DC: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.Google Scholar
  23. Münz, R. (2001). International migration by Ethnic Germans. International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences. Elsevier Science, pp. 7799–7804.Google Scholar
  24. National Identity. (2001). In A. J. Motyl (Ed.), Encyclopedia of nationalism (vol. 2, pp. 360–361). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Stevenson, N. (Ed.). (2001). Culture and citizenship. London, England: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Tschentscher, A. (2002). The basic law (Grundgesetz): The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany (May 23 rd , 1949). Würtzburg, Germany: Jurisprudentia Verlag.Google Scholar
  27. United Nations Population Division. (2000). Replacement migration: Is it a solution to declining and ageing populations? New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  28. United Nations Population Division. (2002). Population Newsletter Number 74 (December). New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  29. Who’s a German, then? (2002, December 5). The Economist. Retrieved 22 October 2003 from:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesWestern New Mexico UniversitySilver CityUSA

Personalised recommendations