What is the trend in settlement density?

The qualitative indicator settlement density complements land consumption by establishing a relationship between the number of inhabitants vs. the settlement and transport space. The settlement density provides information about the use of the settlement area and possible savings or densification potentials as well as poor utilisation of infrastructure.

  • The settlement density in Germany is approx. 1,890 inhabitants/km² ( IÖR-Monitor, 2020).
  • It has been declining for years, with a decrease of approx. 4 % since 2010.
  • It should be noted that the slowdown in the decline in settlement density is largely due to the increase in population. Immigration plays a major role here.
  • On average, each inhabitant has 529 m² of SuV space (in 2010 it was still 509 m²).

Even if the population were to remain steady, the Federal Government’s goal of maintaining constant settlement density can only be achieved if the total settlement and transportation area does not grow. This means aiming for a net-zero target in land consumption.

Detailed consideration of settlement density according to city and municipal types of the BBSR

  • Settlement density decreases sharply with the size of the city or municipality.
  • The settlement density in cities > 500,000 pop. (large cities) with an average of approx. 4,600 inhabitants/km², about 4.7 times higher than the average value for rural communities (< 5,000 inhabitants).
  • Only in large metropolitan areas has the settlement density increased since 2010; in all other types of cities/municipalities it has decreased.