So many people in Germany have no Internet

Whether it’s the QR code at the pub counter, WLAN on the S-Bahn or the digital check-in before a flight: the Internet is omnipresent in the everyday lives of many. Despite this, there are still millions in Germany who have hardly ever, if at all, been online. But why and how many actually live without the Internet?

They do indeed still exist in Germany, and they are not so few: People who live without the Internet, some of whom have never even used it. What seems unimaginable to many is reality for quite a few. The Federal Statistical Office has now published the latest figures.

Millions in Germany without Internet

According to the Federal Office, around six percent of Germans between the ages of 16 and 74 live without Internet access. This corresponds to around 3.8 million people in the country, the statisticians announced in Wiesbaden on Tuesday. These figures come from the past year 2021. The survey of the figures refers explicitly to private households. No Internet means, among other things: no streaming, no navigation devices, no messengers, no online shopping or banking, no constant flow of information, no online appointment booking, etc. It’s possible, of course, but who does that even affect?

Older people live offline more often

According to the digital association Bitkom, the number of people without the Internet is very manageable, especially in the young age group up to 30. “In our representative surveys, almost 100 percent of participants under the age of 30 and, for that matter, also under the age of 50, regularly state that they have used the Internet in the past days and weeks,” Bitkom CEO Bernhard Rohleder said on Tuesday when asked. According to the survey, virtually no one between the ages of 16 and 29 has consciously given up the Internet on a regular basis.

The proportion is significantly higher among older age groups. The figures from the Federal Statistical Office also show that the older people are, the higher the proportion of people without the Internet. At around 21 percent, it is highest among 65- to 74-year-olds, the Federal Office explained. Among 55- to 64-year-olds, the share is eight percent. How high it is among those over 74 is not clear from the statisticians’ figures. “This suggests that far more people are currently offline,” Regina Görner, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organizations, told the German Press Agency.

For young people in particular, the Internet and especially smartphones are an indispensable part of their everyday lives. But is there also a proportion of them who have never been on the Internet? There is no simple answer to this question. According to the Federal Statistical Office, at least three percent of those under 55 are “offliners.

Pandemic makes life difficult without Internet

But why are there so many people among the elderly who live without the Internet? Regina Görner attributes this, among other things, to the fact that many lack the financial means to equip themselves with digital devices or pay for an Internet connection. “They also tend to see the dangers rather than the benefits and have little confidence in their ability to learn to ensure confident use in this complex area.”

The life of these offliners has become even more cumbersome in the Corona pandemic, the federal office explained. In doing so, it referred to the digital vaccination certificate and the online appointment bookings that have become necessary in many places in the meantime. Comparisons with previous years are only possible to a very limited extent due to methodological changes.

Germany below average in comparison

In the European Union, the average number of people without the Internet last year was around eight percent. However, there are major differences within the EU, the Federal Office explained with reference to the statistics authority Eurostat. In Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, for example, the proportion of 16- to 74-year-olds who have never used the Internet was below five percent. The highest percentages were recorded in Greece with 20 percent, Bulgaria with 17 percent and Portugal with 16 percent.

Screenshot of statistics on people without Internet in Europe
Photo: Eurostat/Federal Statistical Office (Destasis)

According to estimates by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 37 percent of the world’s population has never been on the Internet. That’s around 2.9 billion people.


  • Federal Statistical Office