Population, mortality and place of death in Germany (1950-2050) - implications for end-of-life care in the future

Public Health. 2012 Nov;126(11):937-46. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.06.014. Epub 2012 Oct 2.


Objectives: European populations are ageing, but data on the associated end-of-life care needs are scarce. This study aimed to analyse population, mortality and place of death (PoD) trends in Germany since 1950, and to project mortality by PoD until 2050.

Study design and methods: Secondary analysis of national statistics on population, mortality and PoD by age and gender. Future numbers and proportions of deaths by PoD - hospital deaths (HDs) and non-hospital deaths (NHDs) - were based on recent trends (2005-2009). Linear models accounted for the effect of age and gender.

Results: The German population increased by 19.0% between 1950 and 2002, and has remained relatively stable ever since. However, it is expected that it will decrease (15.4%) from 2009 to 2050 (from 81.8 to 69.4 million). The annual number of deaths has shown an increasing trend, except for a decrease in 1975-2004. A 26.0% increase is expected from 2009 to 2050 (854,544 to 1,077,000 deaths). Older people (age ≥ 75 years) will account for 87.8% of all deaths in 2050 (64.4% in 2009). The proportion of HDs was stable, with an annual mean of 47.0% (range 44.9-47.8%). The models estimated that most people will continue to die outside of hospital in 2050 (48.6 or 54.1%), and absolute numbers of both HDs and NHDs will increase from 2009 to 2050 [HD: by 20.1 million (30.6%); NHD: by 35.5 million (17.0%)].

Conclusions: Unlike in other industrialized countries, most people in Germany die outside of hospital. The need to plan for growing end-of-life care needs and ageing is urgent in Germany but also applies to the rest of Europe. A joint European policy must inform national strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospital Mortality / trends*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Population*
  • Terminal Care / trends