Frankfurt is no longer growing.

In the Corona year 2020, the recent rapid increase in the number of residents was suddenly slowed down, and in the end there was only a meager increase of 0.1 percent to 763,500 residents.

And the trend continues at an accelerated pace in the current year.

The result: Frankfurt is now even shrinking.

Since the beginning of the year the city has lost 5,000 inhabitants, according to the latest figures from the State Statistical Office at the end of April, only 75,8500 Frankfurters were counted.

Carsten Knop


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This means that Frankfurt is part of a development that the 15 largest German cities as a whole cannot escape.

However, relatively speaking, Frankfurt is hit particularly hard.

The population in the 15 cities had increased since the end of the 2010s: between 2017 and 2018 the average growth was 0.55 percent, and between 2018 and 2019 it was 0.36 percent.

In particular, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Leipzig increased significantly over the period, Frankfurt and Munich, for example, by up to 1.4 percent per year.

So the reverse is remarkable.

Less immigration

In a discussion paper that was produced under the leadership of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, one finds the overriding reasons: the declining number of births, the increase in deaths and the immigration from abroad that has come to a standstill. "The corona pandemic has slowed the growth of the big cities for the time being," says UFZ urban sociologist Dieter Rink, the main author of the discussion paper. Rink told the FAZ that it was still too early to assess the development of the current year, especially with a view to Frankfurt: “Even if Frankfurt is already in the red with 5,000 inhabitants, that may change in the second half of the year. Frankfurt already had a negative migration balance in 2020, which has presumably increased this year. "

It is conceivable that Frankfurt experienced less international immigration in the first half of 2021 due to the corona restrictions. In addition, it is possible that the migration balance with the surrounding area has so far been negative. However, this could change in the second half of the year if the corona restrictions are no longer so strict. "Then students and trainees can certainly be expected to move in again," Rink suspects. In recent years, Frankfurt has also had a positive natural balance, i.e. a population growth from its own citizenship - without immigration. “However, the number of births was already falling somewhat in 2020, a trend that is likely to continue in 2021. As a result, Frankfurt could actually shrink this year, how much this shrinkage is,you won't see them until the end of the year, ”says Rink.

No permanent braking effect

Similarly, it is not yet possible to predict how the population will develop in all major cities in Germany from 2021 onwards.

The Federal Statistical Office expects immigration to Germany to decline by 25 percent in 2020.

The decisive factor could now be whether international immigration to Germany gets going again, as was the case in the early 2010s.

Should this occur, however, they will encounter a shortage of living space and high real estate prices in the big cities.

"The housing market today is very different from what it was in 2010, when there was still plenty of living space," says Rink.

This makes it difficult to move to the cities.

Those in charge should actually be happy about a respite, because they could push ahead with the construction of schools and daycare centers without the number of pupils continuing to grow so rapidly. In principle, for example, the Dortmund spatial researchers Stefan Siedentop and Ralf Zimmer-Hegmann do not assume “that the corona pandemic and its long-term economic and social consequences will slow down urbanization and change the relationship between sustainable urban development - neither in a German context nor in an international context Perspective. “Covid-19 has the potential to halt urbanization in the short term. In the longer term, however, no permanent braking effect is to be expected.