Like it or not, because of the pandemic and lockdown, people are currently spending more time at home than ever in recent history. Many feel lonely or cramped. However, the space to live has increased. According to the Federal Statistical Office, apartments in Germany averaged just under 92 square meters at the end of 2019. The living space per inhabitant averaged 47 square meters. Since 2010, the living space per person has increased by two square meters. But how much space is actually a lot or a little? And who lives how much?
The Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) has now analyzed this in detail. Earlier studies by the IW have already shown that owners, in particular, have more space to live. While their average living space has increased since 2010, it has remained more or less the same for tenants, and in the big cities it has even decreased: those who rented had to move closer together. According to the IW, this is primarily due to the lack of affordable housing. More and more people are drawn to the cities.
The average number of household members is increasing, “since moving to a new, larger apartment is often associated with significantly higher costs and sometimes does not take place,” according to the new IW analysis that the Cologne Institute will publish this Monday. At the same time, the proportion of tenants who have less than one living space available has risen in the past decade. Experts speak of the “lock-in effect”. According to IW, immigration to Germany is also reflected in the figures. Accordingly, the proportion of tenants with a migration background increased from 25 to 32 percent between 2010 and 2018. It is only half the size of the owners.
A household with 83 square meters per capita is in the top ten percent
The basis of the new IW study is the socio-economic panel, an annual survey of more than 15,000 households in Germany. In order to find out more about who is using how much living space, the Cologne Institute concentrated on private households and determined the living space consumption for various population groups. In a household with 41 square meters per capita, one belongs to the top 50 percent of the total population. From 83 square meters per capita you are among the top ten percent. It looks completely different if you live alone. This applies to around one in five people in Germany, and those who live alone have significantly more space: only eleven percent have less than 41 square meters.
The average living space – that is the figure that is exactly in the middle if you arrange the apartments according to size – is 65 square meters.
The differences between tenants and owners are also clear. Those who have their own four walls live on average in apartments of 125 square meters. For tenants it is only 75 square meters. Another figure shows how big the gap is here: not even a quarter of tenants live in apartments that are larger than 100 square meters. “For owners, the ratio is almost the opposite,” writes the study’s author, Pekka Sagner.
If you look at the level of education, the differences are rather small. People with a university degree live on average in somewhat larger apartments than those with a secondary school diploma. It is noticeable, however, that retirees have significantly more living space per capita than many other population groups: from 60 square meters one belongs to the top 50 percent of retirees, from 110 square meters to the top ten percent.