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Overview - Mittelstand

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine of the German economy. This is illustrated by statistical data on the macro-economic significance of SMEs and by SME key indicators for Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. the table below). The following data are based on IfM Bonn's definition of SMEs.

Please note that we currently provide only a selection of the most important statistics on our English website.

For further statistics, please refer to our German section.

Key indicators based on SME definition by IfM Bonn

Number of enterprises   
Enterprises according to
business register 20182
3 483 6913 466 58399.5%
Enterprises liable to VAT 201833 279 1363 265 86299.6%
Enterprise turnover   
Turnover of enterprises
according to business
register 20182 (in €)
6 968.28 bn2 397.41 bn34.4%
Turnover of enterprises
liable to VAT 20183 (in €)
6 622.78 bn2 385.19 bn36.0%
Employees/Apprentices in
enterprises and companies
Employees subject to social
insurance contributions in
enterprises according to
business register 20182
30.86 m17.77 m57.6%
Employees subject to social
insurance contributions in local
establishments (incl.
apprentices) (31.12.2018)4
31.39 m24.60 m78.4%
Apprentices in local
establishments (31.12.2018)4,5
1.54 m1.26 m81.7%
Self-employed total 201864.01 m  
Self-employed in liberal
professions (01.01.2019)7
1.43 m  
Self-employment rate
20186, 8
Self-employed except
agriculture 20189
3.82 m  
Self-employment rate
except agriculture 20188, 9
Economic Performance   
Net value added of enterprises
Research and Development   
R&D-expenses of the companies
201811 (in €)
92.80 bn10.36 bn 11.2%
   © IfM Bonn



Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Science statistics of the Stifterverband; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 05/2020.


Key indicators are being updated on a regular basis. The update schedule depends on the availability of basic data from official/semi-official statistics published by statistical agencies and research institutes respectively. 

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