Research area:
Monitoring the development of settlement and open space

Small-Scale Population Forecast for Eastern Thuringia through 2030

In many cities and regions of Germany the effects of demographic transition are impossible to ignore. This especially applies for most districts and municipalities in the eastern German states. In addition to the shrinkage of population as a quantitative dimension, there is also the qualitative factor of the often very marked aging of the local population. Age and gender-selective migration patterns may also aggravate or mitigate the effects regionally. Taking into account the economically imbalanced development of Thuringia and the resulting trends in migration movements, particularly of young job trainees and young adults entering the labor force, there is increasing competition among regions to attract incoming inhabitants. Against a backdrop of declining public funds and the resulting effects on public and private supply services, demographic change presents key challenges to the eastern Thuringian region, in both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. Due to the heterogeneity of the planning region with respect to spatial characteristics and development to date, population forecasts through 2030 are developed for the 300 municipalities of the planning region. A major challenge is presented by the extremely small-scale territorial structuring of the region, which results in small numbers of inhabitants for each municipality.

The population dynamics of Eastern Thuringia by municipality (Source: IOER)

Special characteristics of the population dynamics become visible by analyzing the recent population development on the municipal level. Between the years 1990 and 2010 the easternmost region of Thuringia experienced a population loss of approx. 140,000 inhabitants. This represents a loss of 17% of the population of the most populous region of the state. Differentiated at the municipal level, it appears that communities in the suburban areas of urban centers achieved population increases during the 1990s as a result of the suburbanization process, whereas peripheral communities have been have seen population decreases since the German reunification. During the past decade shrinkage occurred in most of the 300 communities. This large-scale population reduction resulted in a loss of 74,000, or 10% of, the inhabitants in comparison to the year 2000. Only a few scattered municipalities, including the economically powerful center Jena, constituted exceptions.

In order to provide a clear picture of future demographic developments and to investigate a development path contrasting to status-quo development, two scenarios have been established based on verbal/argumentative assumptions, which are in turn based on local actors’ insider knowledge. The Status Quo Development scenario is designed to provide insight into possible developments of the population that could result by assuming no intervention on the part of government and business. In the contrasting scenario, designed to show the Best Case, possible planned and foreseeable influences and developments are taken into account. Regarding the forecast parameters, the scenario could be described by reduced out-migration and an increase in in-migration through the recruitment of new skilled specialists, especially former emigrants returning home, who would replace aging personnel retiring from the labor force. In this case, infrastructural attractiveness is seen as a pull factor. The qualitative part of the scenario was developed on the basis of the tested IÖR Municipal Population Forecast Model, which enables also a differentiation by age cohorts.




M.A. Lisa Eichler
Phone +49 351 4679 209


Regionale Planungsgemeinschaft Ostthüringen