Single-person and childless households in Germany exceed households with children for the first time

Germany’s percentage of households with families is falling: 2009 marked the first time that the number of households without children exceeded those with children. At 39.5 percent in 2009, single-person households in Germany comprise the fastest growing segment of the population. Landshut boasts the highest percentage of families with children at 43 percent, while Greifswald has the youngest households at 23 percent. These are some of the findings of GfK GeoMarketing's "GfK Demographics 2009" study.

Berlin remains the singles' capital, while percentage of families falls
February 08, 2010 — Germany's percentage of single-person households has been rising slowly but steadily for years, reaching 39.5 percent in 2009. GfK GeoMarketing annually carries out the "GfK Demographics" study, which calculates the regional distribution of household types. The study confirms that Berlin remains Germany's undisputed singles' capital in 2009 at 53.5 percent, outpacing the cities of Würzburg and Munich, with 52.6 percent and 51.9 percent respectively.

"Germany's growing number of single-person households reflects a demographic trend," explains Simone Baecker-Neuchl, head of GfK GeoMarketing's market data & research division. "The percentage of retirement-age citizens has been slowly but continually increasing for years. Many of these individuals live alone, whether due to separations or the death of their partners. At the same time, young people are waiting longer to cohabit or start a family. Consequently, the percentage of children in the country is falling. This affects the nation’s typical household profile."

"Also, people of all ages are increasingly living alone. This trend is particularly pronounced in large cities, where the percentage of single-person households often amounts to almost half of all households."

By contrast, the percentage of households with children continues to fall. This past year marked the first time that multiple-person households without children (31.1%) overtook households with children (29.4%). While single-person households tend to be concentrated in large cities, family households are particularly numerous in rural areas. At 43 percent, the Bavarian rural district of Landshut has the nation's highest percentage of family households, followed by nearby Kelheim (42.8 percent) and Straubing-Bogen (42.4 percent). Among Germany's federal states, Baden-Württemberg has the highest share of households with children at 32.7 percent, which is 11 percent above the national average.

Share of family households sank in 2009 - GfK Demographis, GfK GeoMarketing

Regional age distribution of household heads
Of Germany’s household heads, 11.6 percent are 30 or under. Greifswald has the highest share of young households, with 23 percent of its household heads under 30. This equates to nearly double the national average. Leipzig and Rostock follow with 20.5 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively. The large number of eastern German cities with high percentages of young households is notable.

"The percentage of young households is especially high in cities with comparatively large universities," comments Baecker-Neuchl. "With the exception of extremely large cities such as Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, student households comprise a significant percentage of all households in cities with universities. The large number of young households in eastern German cities such as Greifswald and Jena can thus in part be attributed to the large number of students in these areas. Couples in the eastern federal states also tend to move in together sooner than their western German counterparts. In short, the high percentage of young households in the 500,000-inhabitant city of Leipzig is not purely a reflection of the presence of the university."

Six of the top 10 districts with the highest share of young households are located in the eastern federal states. Less surprisingly, western German student cities such as Freiburg im Breisgau and Heidelberg also make it into the top ten.

Young households - GfK Demographis, GfK GeoMarketing

The percentage of "young households" is outshadowed by the nation's other household age categories. The largest share belongs to senior households (aged 60 and older) at 34.3 percent, followed by 40-49 year-olds at 21.3 percent, 50-59 year-olds at 16.8 percent and 30-39 year-olds at 15.6 percent.

About the study

The "GfK Demographics" study examines socio-demographic factors and is calculated for a range of regional administrative levels. It provides information on Germany’s population and households according to household type (e.g., single- and multiple-person with or without children, immigrant households, etc.), household age (i.e., age of household head), income level (divided into seven brackets) and the architectural profile of the residence (e.g., single-, two-family house, etc.).

Marketing and sales divisions use the GfK Demographics dataset to more effectively locate target groups. The data reveal, among other things, the most favorable areas in which to advertise certain products. GfK Demographics 2009 can be ordered from GfK GeoMarketing for all of Germany's urban and rural districts, municipalities, postcodes and 2.5 million street segments.

Print-quality illustrations can be found at

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About GfK GeoMarketing

GfK GeoMarketing is one of the largest providers of geomarketing services in Europe for customers and users from all branches of trade. Key business areas include:

  • Consultancy
  • Market data
  • Digital maps
  • Geomarketing software RegioGraph

GfK GeoMarketing is a subsidiary of the globally active GfK Group. Ranked fourth among the world's market research institutes, the GfK is represented in 100 countries with over 150 subsidiaries and 10,000 employees.

GfK GeoMarketing GmbH,


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