Facts Dessau-Roßlau

Selected Key Data



Due to a fall in birth rate and migration the city lost more and more of its inhabitants. Young people especially left the city due to a lack of job opportunities and an outlook for the future. And where young people leave, fewer children are born: more than a third of the city’s population is now aged over 65, and the quota of young people and children hovers around only 13 percent. Since 1989, Dessau’s population has fallen from approximately 100,000 to 76,000, while since fusion with Roßlau in 2007, the double city has had around 90,000 inhabitants.

And the shrinkage process is everything other than over: predictions indicate that the population will continue to fall until 2025.

Municipal Boundaries


Because of increased suburbanisation from the early 1990s, the cities have lost a considerable proportion of their inhabitants and tax revenues to the surrounding communities. In order to dilute the impact of these losses, a gradual process of incorporation has increased the municipal areas in size, sometimes significantly so.

The coloured shape on the map symbolises the expansion of the city in 1990, the outer line shows the boarder of the municipal area of 2010.

Housing Situation


Urban redevelopment in Dessau-Roßlau started in 2002: just shy of 2,300 apartments have been demolished to date. Prognoses indicate that in ten years, only 32,000 of the current 47,000 apartments will be required. The stock of housing is still relatively young due to the widespread wartime destruction and the expansive construction of new buildings in the GDR era: more than half of the housing was constructed after 1948, primarily in industrial style. This construction structure means that around half of the apartments are owned by the city or by cooperatives. The factories housing estates that were constructed over the course of industrialisation represent a special feature of Dessau.

There are vastly differing levels of redevelopment: practically redeveloped districts directly face undeveloped areas or estates threatened by dereliction.

Housing Situation in Dessau-Roßlau (2/2010):
Housing Stock: 54,200
Surplus Housing: 7,300 / 13 Percent
Housing Demolitian since 2001/02: 3,200



Like in many industrial centres of Eastern Germany, a fundamental process of deindustrialisation started in Dessau after 1990. Within a short period, the economic basis was stripped from the area: of 23,000 industrial jobs in 1989, only a fifth remained ten years later. In 1999, the unemployment rate reached the officially highest level of 23.6 percent. The diagram illustrates the radical economic structural reform: Large industrial combines were forced to close, and even where smaller companies came along and still produce today, the often significantly increased output figures require only a fraction of the workforce once needed.

But a new sector of medium-sized companies (among others mechanical engineering, pharmaceuticals, chemistry) has since emerged. It has even registered rising productivity, but which has not led to greater employment, however: in 2005, the unemployment rate was still 20 percent. Faced with the lack of younger generations, the city is forced to adjust to a sustained ageing population and a lack of skilled workers suitable for gainful employment. At the same time, a significant volume of investment was channelled into the infrastructure during the nineties – in the hope of reestablishing Dessau as an industrial centre. Numerous new commercial estates were developed and the airport was reopened. The hope was that new companies would be attracted by the expansion of the motorway junctions and the construction of new bypass roads. But the boom never emerged.

Relocating and Commuting

Bildschirmfoto Pendler und Umzüge

In the 1990s, suburbanisation affected all the IBA cities. At the same time, people, especially those from the former industrial centres, began to move to West Germany. The populations of the large cities of Halle (Saale) and Magdeburg have increased minimally in recent times, mainly due to migration from Saxony-Anhalt. In the meantime, the improved transportation network allows for longer journeys to and from work and the number of commuters is climbing.

The interactive tool "Relocating and commuting" visualises this range of topics for all IBA cities.

Sources for the statistical details: Ministry of Regional Development and Transport Saxony-Anhalt; Raumbeobachtungssystem Sachsen-Anhalt (RABE); Statistisches Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt; Urban Development Concept Dessau-Roßlau 2006; 1989 GDR statistics; www.iba-monitor.de; 11/2009

Info: Dessau-Roßlau

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 119.377
2009: 88.153
2025: 78.681 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 244,64 qkm

IBA-Website of Dessau-Roßlau