Covid-19 is driving people out of Germany's big cities

Marketplace of Werder near Berlin

The coronavirus pandemic could give a strong boost to the existing trend of migration from city centers. Smaller cities are the most frequently mentioned destinations for relocations.

07/19/2021 · Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Raumwissenschaften · ifo Institut Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universität München e. V. · News · Forschungsergebnis

The coronavirus pandemic could give a strong boost to the existing trend of migration from city centers to suburbia. This is a finding from a survey of over 18,000 people in Germany conducted by the ifo Institute and real-estate portal immowelt. According to the survey, 13 percent of respondents from large cities with more than 500,000 residents plan to leave in the next 12 months. Nearly half (46 percent) of all respondents with short-term plans to move said that the coronavirus pandemic had influenced their decision.

“Many respondents say they want to make fewer compromises in their own living arrangements in the future because they have started spending more time at home due to the pandemic,” says Jan-Carl Mehles, head of market research at immowelt and co-author of the study. The most frequently mentioned destinations for relocation are smaller cities with 100,000–500,000 inhabitants and suburban areas in the environs of large cities. In contrast, rural areas figure only in a minor capacity.

The study goes on to show that most of those gravitating to suburban and smaller metropolitan areas are families with children or younger age groups getting ready to start families. “Our findings suggest that better connections between suburban and urban areas and an expansion of education infrastructure in the affected communities will become increasingly important,” says Mathias Dolls, ifo researcher and study co-author.

The study is based on a survey of more than 18,000 people in Germany. Two groups of around 7,000 people were surveyed on a representative basis from large cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants and from suburban areas. In addition, two further groups with some 2,000 people each participated in the survey: one from smaller metropolitan areas with 100,000–500,000 inhabitants and one from rural areas.

Original publication

Dolls, Mathias; Mehles, Jan-Carl (2021): Wie beeinflusst die Corona-Pandemie die Wohnortpräferenzen? in: ifo Schnelldienst, 2021, 74, Nr. 08, 03-07. 

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