The population of Germany manifests trends characteristic of most advanced industrial countries: lower marriage rates, delayed marriage and child-bearing, low fertility rates, small household size, high divorce rates, and extended life expectancy. The population of indigenous Germans has been in decline since 1972 in the west and since 1969 in the east because the number of births has not kept pace with the number of deaths. In 1990 only five of the sixteen Lšnder registered growth in population because of natural increase.
Household size decreased from 3.0 persons in 1950 to 2.3 in 1990. Marriage rates have slackened, while divorce rates have risen or remained stable at high rates. In the late 1980s, almost one-third of all marriages ended in divorce. Infant mortality has steadily declined, and life expectancy has risen, albeit more slowly in eastern Germany. As in the United States, a greater proportion of the population is moving into advanced age. In 1871 only 4.6 percent of the population was sixty-five years of age or older. By 1939 that proportion had risen to 7.8 percent, and by 1992 it had risen to about 15 percent. By 2000 it is estimated that one-quarter of the population will be sixty or older.
Since the 1950s, the population of Germany has become more diverse. Millions of foreigners have migrated to Germany, seeking employment, citizenship, or asylum. In contrast to the native population, foreigners in Germany tend to have more children and larger households. In 1988 their average household size was 3.5 persons. Depending upon their origins and social status, foreigners in Germany have been integrated into society in widely varying degrees.
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