What is the problem of demographic data

Demographic development in Germany


The skilled worker situation is dramatized
According to the WSI of the Hans Böckler Foundation, companies in many industries do not lack skilled workers, but rather the willingness to pay.
Extract from WSI Report No. 41, August 2018:

Currently 48 percent of the companies cannot fill vacancies in the long term, nor are there 1.6 million vacancies. The claim that the "shortage of skilled workers" is particularly widespread in those sectors in which the qualification requirements are rather low is also incomprehensible. These sectors only show a high staff turnover, which is reflected in a high number of vacancies, but in no way indicates a lack of qualified workers. Both a quantitative analysis based on data from the DIHK and case studies on the low-wage industries highlighted by the DIHK show that the complaints of entrepreneurs in these economic sectors about the shortage of skilled workers are more a reflection of their efforts to keep labor costs low. So the cause is not a lack of skilled workers, but a willingness to pay. An immigration policy that is intended to provide the German low-wage sector with low-wage personnel is economically harmful and undermines the social acceptance of the immigration of skilled workers that will make sense in the coming decades.
According to the DIHK, problems with filling vacancies are complained particularly frequently by companies from branches of industry that have rather low qualification requirements. Examples are temporary work, where 83 percent of the companies surveyed stated that there were problems with filling vacancies, as well as the security industry (78 percent), road freight transport (63 percent) and the hospitality industry (62 percent) (DIHK 2018b, p.9).
Companies in low-wage industries such as the hospitality industry live off the sale of simple work or services. The services of the different companies are often interchangeable, so that they are in a fierce price competition. In such a context, profits depend to a large extent on the level of labor costs. Companies will therefore try to save on working conditions and wages even if their economic situation is good. The low importance of company and industry-specific knowledge favors a high fluctuation in working relationships. The companies are therefore constantly on the lookout for the cheapest possible personnel, which is reflected in a high number of vacancies.
A high number of vacancies in an industry is therefore not to be interpreted as a "shortage of skilled workers", but primarily refers to high staff turnover.
It is not disputed that in Germany there is a shortage of skilled workers in individual technical occupational fields, in construction professions as well as in health and care professions.
However, the studies of the DIHK are part of a specialist campaign by associations and companies, which excessively builds up the problem of the shortage of skilled workers in order to adapt immigration law in a very one-sided manner to the interests of employers in low-wage industries.

According to a study by the IMK (Institute for Macroeconomics and Economic Research), the effects of demographic change can be reduced to around a third to a fifth.
Extract from the press release of April 18th, 2018 of the IMK:

The effects of demographic change on German society, especially the social systems, can be reduced to around a third to a fifth through better economic and labor market policy. This means that the effects of social aging will remain financially manageable until 2060, and major interventions in the pension system could be avoided in the long term. The key to this lies in better integration into employment by increasing the employment rate, especially among women and migrants, and reducing underemployment with very short working hours, especially in mini-jobs. The goals are quite realistic: The mentioned buffer effect of almost two thirds to four fifths (calculation below) can be achieved if Germany's labor force participation is achieved by 2050, as Sweden already has today.


The demographic development will lead to massive changes in the labor market in the coming years. The shortage of skilled workers can already be felt in some areas of the economy. Companies must take various measures to increase their own attractiveness in order to be able to recruit and retain skilled workers.

Demography (demography) deals statistically with the development of populations and their structures. Demography is the description of a population group based on characteristics such as age and gender.

The change in the composition of the age structure of a society is known as demographic change. The following three factors influence the demographic development of a society:

  • Life expectancy (mortality rate or mortality)
  • Birth rate (fertility)
  • Migration balance (difference between immigration and emigration; migration balance)

Since the 1970s, Germany has had an excess of the number of deaths over the number of births. The population growth that was still sustained until recently resulted only from positive net migration.

While life expectancy is constantly increasing, the birth rate is falling in Germany. This changes the age composition of the population in Germany dramatically. This also increases the proportion of older employees in the companies.

If you look at the whole thing positively, Germany has a luxury problem.

A large number of studies have now dealt with the effects of an aging workforce.

Who actually counts as "older workers"?

There is no uniform definition for this. The 50 to 65 year olds are often referred to as older workers. The term 50plus exists in common parlance. In the WeGebAU program, the employment agency sets the limit at 45 years of age for older employees. For this group of people there are additional funds to support qualification support.

An analysis of the company-specific age structure is a good introduction to dealing more intensively with the demographic development in the company. The current age structure data for the workforce is recorded and a forecast of the future age structure is made based on certain assumptions about personnel development.

Internet portal demowanda.de provides information on demographic change in the world of work.
The portal gives an overview of current developments in various areas of life that influence the world of work.

With an online test, the demography network wants to help companies to better meet the changes in age and the composition of the workforce.

Analysis of the company-specific age structure

The statistical distribution of people over years of life is called the age structure. The graphical representation of this distribution is also known as the age pyramid.

Work steps:

  1. Procurement of personal data in tabular form (actual state of the demographic situation in the company)
    Minimum scope of basic data: personnel number, name, date of birth and gender
    Useful additional data for detailed information: company area, location, cost center, qualification
  2. Definition of the units to be examined (entire company, certain company areas, departments, locations, employee groups)
  3. Calculation of the data
  4. Graphic representation
  5. Interpretation of the results
  6. Simple updating of the data (often by 10 years)
  7. Definition of personnel measures

The data can be exported from the payroll program. Many programs have an ODBC interface. In this case, you can access the data with a spreadsheet program or a database program. Another option is to export the data in a format (e.g. CSV) that is suitable for further processing with a spreadsheet program.

Demographic change in the world of work

COGITO study at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin

A new study examines day-to-day fluctuations in the mental performance of adults. Older people do better than younger ones.

People between the ages of 20 and 31 and between 65 and 80 years took part in the COGITO study. They worked on different tasks. The researchers tested perceptual speed, memory retention and working memory. In addition to the learning progress, daily fluctuations in performance were determined and the age groups compared.

Extract from the press release of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development from August 5th, 2013:

Above all, the results of the comparison between the age groups were surprising: the older ones showed lower fluctuations in performance from day to day than the younger ones in all nine tasks examined. The mental performance of the elderly was thus more reliable. This also applied when the performance advantages of the younger generation were taken into account in the average performance level. "Further evaluations indicate that the strategies learned in the elderly when working on tasks, consistently high levels of motivation and a balanced everyday life with a stable mood play a role", says Florian Schmiedek.
The results of the study are also interesting in view of the debate about the performance of older people in working life. "The bottom line is that older employees are more productive and reliable than younger ones," comments Axel Börsch-Supan, Director of the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, on the results of the COGITO study . "One of our studies in automobile production shows that older employees are significantly less likely to make serious mistakes that are expensive to eliminate than younger ones. In the other industries we examined, one does not find that younger employees are more productive than older ones," says the scientist who is responsible for the Researches the subject of productivity in an aging society.

In many professions, an older employee is more productive than a younger employee. The loss of physical performance that occurs in old age and the reduction in certain senses such as hearing and sight are no longer of importance in many professions or can be compensated for with appropriate workplace design and aids. We are simply no longer hunters and gatherers where the fastest and the strongest was the best. "The younger ones run faster, but the older ones know the abbreviation," said Ursula von der Leyen. Knowledge and experience are crucial in our society.

However, knowledge and experience increase with age. What the younger can achieve through fitness, the older replaces with routine.

The IAB-Forum Spezial 2013 on October 9, 2013 stated the following:

The challenge ahead lies in activating existing potential in order to limit the effects of an aging and shrinking workforce. Participation in working life must be encouraged, the volume of work expanded and participation in education and training strengthened. The potential that needs to be leveraged lies in particular with women, the elderly and migrants already living in Germany. Germany must also make greater efforts to attract qualified immigrants.

The rise in the average age can no longer be stopped in many companies. To be able to solve these problems, employers have to broaden their search horizons. It is no longer necessary to prepare employees aged 50 and over for retirement. Germany needs more older employees on the labor market. It is important to counteract early retirement.

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