Germany's birth rate falls to lowest level since 2009

  • World
  • Thursday, 21 Mar 2024

BERLIN, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Germany's birth rate has fallen significantly over the past two years, dropping to its lowest level since 2009, the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) said on Wednesday.

The country's birth rate dropped from 1.57 children per woman in 2021 to around 1.36 in 2023, according to a study published by BiB and Stockholm University in the "European Journal of Population." Germany's birth rate has been one of the lowest in Europe for decades.

"The sharp decline in fertility observed within two years is unusual, as phases of falling birth rates have tended to be slower in the past," BiB said. The institute attributed an initial "abrupt drop" in January 2022 to the start of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, as the vaccines were not yet approved for pregnant women at that time.

In addition to the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, rising inflation, and advancing climate change had "made people feel insecure," said Martin Bujard, a scientist at BiB and co-author of the study.

"In uncertain and economically tense times, people prefer to postpone their family planning. We are seeing that right now," a spokesperson for the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth told Xinhua on Wednesday.

"We need to invest in a progressive family policy right now in order to give families and future parents security and encourage people to start a family," the spokesperson stressed. Important measures include financial support and high-quality, comprehensive childcare.

Despite the declining birth rate, Germany's population increased to around 84.7 million people by the end of 2023, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). As in the previous year, the increase was again due to high immigration.

Germany's aging population is largely dependent on immigration. To counter its massive shortage of skilled workers, the German government recently reformed the country's immigration law, making it easier for professionals to enter the country and stay.

"Qualified immigration helps Germany from an economic perspective," said Axel Pluennecke from the German Economic Institute (IW) at the end of February, adding that Germany would need "even more immigration in view of the demographic challenge over the next ten years."

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