According to the latest census in Kazakhstan:

"The 2021 Census revealed for the first time since the dissolution of the USSR, that the ethnic German population of Kazakhstan had increased to 226,092 from 178,409 in 2009."

This is a rather sharp increase and seems quite strange to me, as Kazakhstan is not known to be a popular destination country for (German) migrants.

What could be some reasons for this increase?

  • 13
    Crunching the numbers, that's a 26.7% increase in 12 years, or about 2% per year. I'd be interested to know how that matches up with past data, i.e. whether the number of Germans in Kazakhstan was already increasing at that rate prior to 2009.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 23 at 11:14
  • 4
    To exclude the null hypothesis (it's just random, normal fluctuation) you could maybe check how German populations in other countries in that region have developed and see if the observed change is larger than the general variance. Also this might be more a sociology question than a politics question unless maybe it's tied to Kazakh immigration policies or something? How did populations of other developed countries (France, Uk, China) change in Kazakhstan over that time? Apr 23 at 11:18
  • 13
    Per F1Krazy's calculation, the numbers are within a range where simply new German children being born could account for the growth. Then there is also the possibility that people started identifying as German who previously didn't.
    – Arno
    Apr 23 at 11:49
  • 1
    @NoDataDumpNoContribution : Comparing it with citizens of France etc, and questioning Kazakh immigration policies are pointless. There was a significant presence of ethnic Germans in that region since centuries. The number of people who migrated from Germany to Kazakhstan in the 21st century (unless originally from Kazakhstan and just going back home) is negligible if not zero.
    – vsz
    Apr 24 at 4:21
  • 1
    @vsz not for centuries, but since the Stalin deportations of 1941.
    – ccprog
    Apr 24 at 11:00

2 Answers 2


There have been many ethnic Germans for Kazakhstan for historical reasons. Note that we are talking here about an ethnic group, not German citizens, although ethnicity allows in some cases repatriation to Germany:

Most of them are the offspring of Volga Germans, who were deported to the then Soviet republic of Kazakhstan from the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic soon after the Nazi German Invasion during World War II. Large portions of the community were imprisoned in the Soviet labor camp system.

One could argue that many people were reluctant to identify as Germans during the Soviet rule, while now it is more a matter of interest in one's own ancestry, with no negative consequences or stigma. The prevalence of the latter attitude is likely associated with generational change.

As per cited Wikipedia article:

Their number peaked at nearly 1 million (957 thousand people per 1989 census) near the time of the Soviet dissolution, but most have emigrated since then, usually to Germany or Russia. However, after a significant decrease from 1989 to 2009, by 2015 the number had seen a slight increase of a few thousand, the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Between 2009 and 2021 the German population had increased by 26.7%, though mostly due to changes in patterns of ethnic identity rather than actual population growth.

(emphasis is mine)

In resposne to the comments: patterns of ethnic identity refers to people identifying themselves as German/Russian/Kazakh/etc., which may be related to their origins, cultural identity, etc. (E.g., Elisabeth Warren identified herself as Cherokee during a period of her life, and was even touted for this by Donald Trump.)

This was quite an issue during the Soviet era: it was not uncommon for children from mixed marriages to adopt the ethnicity (and sometimes even the last name) of the parent that was less stigmatized. E.g., somebody with one German/Jewish parent and one Russian parent would be more likely register themselves in adulthood as Russian, as to avoid public stigma and even real restrictions in studying, employment, travel, etc.

One well-known example is Garry Kasparov, who was born Garik Kimovich Weinstein, but adopted his Armenian mother's family name Kasparov to avoid obstacles to his chess career:

Kasparov began the serious study of chess after he came across a problem set up by his parents and proposed a solution. When he was seven years old, his father died of leukaemia. At the age of twelve, Kasparov, upon the request of his mother Klara and with the consent of the family, adopted Klara's surname Kasparov, which was done to avoid possible anti-Semitic tensions common in the USSR at the time.

  • 4
    The part of the WP quote you emphasized in bold was only added this week and has not yet been reviewed (which means it is invisible for user not logged in). You will need to explain more about what the quite obscure term "pattern of ethnic identity" is supposed to mean, anyway.
    – ccprog
    Apr 23 at 14:15
  • 1
    @ccprog it's also not sourced in any way, aka a prime example of completely untrusteable information
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 24 at 10:38
  • 1
    @FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBad I never said it was not true. I'm just saying that the level of trust for that piee of info is on the same level as a random reddit comment. I also wouldn't be surprised if more trustworthy information (especially on the why) is simply not available (in english at least, though the russian-language wikipedia page doesn't even point out the recent rise [in my google translate version]
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 24 at 13:50
  • 2
    @Hobbamok You could do your own study by talking to a dozen of older immigrants - my answer is largely based on such interactions. Anyhow, I asked a related question in history: history.stackexchange.com/q/75928/49363 Apr 24 at 14:03
  • 1
    @FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBad why are you so hard pressed to defend a random Wikipedia snippet? My entire point was only that we don't know (!!!!) how trustworthy the information of that sentence is. That's it.
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 24 at 14:06

There is a thesis in the comments that the increase can be attributed to more children being born. I've just taken a look at the detailed numbers of age distribution, comparing 2009 to 2021.

enter image description here

Note that the time difference between the two bars is 12 years, while each age group spans 5 years. That means that persons in a blue bar will show up in a corresponding red bar 2–3 steps to the right.

The number of children did increase significantly and certainly contributes to the overall numbers: There are 15,250 more under-15s in 2021 than in 2009. But there are also (smaller) increases in all other cohorts (32,400 total) that can only be attributed to either immigration surplus or larger self-attribution to the German ethnic group.

What stands out is also the large increase in the number of seniors of age 70 and older (5,700). For them, the reason can be speculated over: When the majority of Germans from the former Soviet Union emigrated to Germany during the 1990s (around half a million from Kazakhstan alone), they had high hopes of finding a better life. It is well known that these hopes more often than not were not fulfilled; the Russian-speaking communities in German cities remained largely segregated, their German language skills proved to be too low, their outlook on life and culture was just too different, and their professional qualifications were not recognized, so that opportunities in the labour market did not materialise. (Something that had more to do with German unemployment numbers and racist labour policies than with the immigrants.)

Nowadays, younger members of the community report that there is a certain sort of romanticisation of the old Soviet Union and their old hometowns among the older generation. As a result, there seems to be a tendency for retirees to move back to Kazakhstan.

German immigration and emmigration statistics paint a different picture. Since 2000, there have always been more people moving from Kazakhstan to Germany than in the opposite direction. Since 2015, the emigration surplus to Germany has been more than 3,000 people per year on average. The statistic does only distinguish between people with and without German citizenship, and they each make up about half of the numbers.

Around 1500-2000 Kazakh emigrants to Germany per year claim German citizenship as Spätaussiedler, i. e. either was a Volksdeutscher in Nazi parlance, had the German nationality noted in their Soviet passport, or (since 2013) is a descendant of one and born before 1993.

  • hey had high hopes of finding a better life. It is well known that these hopes more often than not were not fulfilled - this is misunderstanding of how disparate the economic conditions were in the post-Soviet space in 1990 and in the west. Indeed, it was not uncommon for university professors and engineers to have better level of life while performing unqualified jobs in the west than what they had had back at home. Moreover, many of these immigrants would tell you that they migrated to provide a better chance for their children. Apr 24 at 11:41
  • @FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBad But would said university professor be content to spend the rest of his professional life as a bus driver? What I tried to describe was the frustration in the long run, that lead them to believe that their old Soviet life, now decades in the past, was a better one.
    – ccprog
    Apr 24 at 11:45
  • there are three different levels here: what they might have had in the USSR (pre-90s), what they had in 90s, and what they obtained in the 90s west. If working as a taxi driver or cleaning person gave a chance to survive, feed one's family, and give a chance to children - they got what they bargained for. Even more so for those who were already retired. As for the young people or those who had a name (e.g., as scientists) in the USSR - they successfully integrated in western society. As the joke said: American university is a place where Russian professors teach Chinese students Apr 24 at 11:59
  • Indeed, after 2000 most of the post-Soviet space came out of the recession, and the immigration became limited to qualified persons - those who hoped to be able to do better in their chosen field in the west. This is also when the migration back to the countries of origin began - the level of life is still lower, but not so low as to offset the language, cultural and other difficulties that you mention. Apr 24 at 12:05
  • @FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBad Exactly. All I wanted to explain was the rise in senior German population in Kazakhstan between 2009 and 2021.
    – ccprog
    Apr 24 at 12:10

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