Germany: over a quarter of population has immigrant roots

FILE - Ion this Sunday, June 8, 2014 file photo, dancers perform during the annual Carnival of Cultures parade in Berlin, Germany. Thousands of people attended the festival where groups of German citizens with and without immigrant roots present their culture backgrounds. More than a quarter of Germany's inhabitants are immigrants or have immigrant roots, according to the country's Federal Statistical Office. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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More than a quarter of Germany’s inhabitants are immigrants or have immigrant roots, according to official data for 2019 released Tuesday.

Some 21.2 million, or 26% of the total population, have a “migrant background,” according to figures from a 2019 microcensus, the Federal Statistical Office said. That is an increase of 2.1% compared to a year earlier — the smallest percentage increase since 2011, the office said.

The largest single group, some 13% of all people who have a migrant background, are originally from Turkey or with roots there, the office said. People with origins or roots from Poland and Russia followed. Overall, 65% of all immigrants have European roots.

In Germany, somebody is considered to have a “migrant background” if they, or at least one of their parents, were born a non-German citizen. Some 11.1 million people, or 51% of the total with a migrant background, were born as German citizens.

There is still a big difference between the numbers of immigrants living in western and eastern Germany. The northwestern city-state of Bremen has the highest immigration-rooted population — 36.5% of the total population — while in the eastern state of Thuringia the figure is only 7.8%.

Following the division of Germany into east and west after World War II, West Germany invited millions of so-called guest workers to help rebuild the country, many of whom stayed for good.

Relatively few foreigners were allowed to live and work in communist East Germany. Thirty years after German unification in 1990, these differences are still visible.

The new figures also show that people with immigrant roots are still over-represented in low-paying jobs and underrepresented in professions that require an academic training. They account for more than half, or 55%, of cleaning workers and 30% of geriatric care workers, but only 11% of teachers.