The word "migration" refers to the geographical change of a person's home. Official statistics distinguish between two forms: internal migration and international migration. The area presented here is that of internal migration, including all instances of a change of place of residence where a municipality boundary is crossed within the borders of Germany. According to this definition, roughly 3.5 to 4 million people move within Germany every year. Decisive factors include personal reasons (relationship, family formation), the regional labour, educational and housing markets, as well as the transport connections of the places of residence.
As a matter of principle, it is possible to distinguish between long-distance and local internal migration. The main long-distance trends over the boundaries of the Federal Länder in recent decades have been migration between northern and southern Germany, as well as between eastern and western Germany. The migration balance between eastern and western Germany has been almost equal for several years. Also when it comes to north-south migration, there are winners in intra-German migration both in the south (Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate) and in the north (Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein).
At the local analysis level of municipalities and districts, migration between rural and urban regions constitutes a large part of intra-German migration events. The direction of the migration here depends on age and sex. Whilst young people overwhelmingly migrate to the towns and cities, young families, as well as older people, more frequently move from the towns and cities into the surrounding urban area or into the countryside.