In an interview with newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the minister said there has been a marked increase in births among women between the ages of 30 and 40.
In 2007, Germany registered 12,000 more births than in the previous year. The upward trend continued last year with 517,549 children born between January and September 2008 – an increase of 3,400, according to the newspaper. The Federal Statistics Office estimates that a total of 690,000 children were born in Germany last year.
Von der Leyen, who is to present a report on families in Germany on Monday, said her ministry had discovered that more German men had warmed to the idea of having kids.
In 2007, the minister, a mother of seven, introduced parental leave benefits for German fathers which allow them to stay at home on two-thirds of their salaries for a year. The measure was meant to raise Germany’s birth rate which has long been one of the lowest in Europe.
“The desire to have children is rising among men. The role of the father is changing today,” von der Leyen said.
The minister said the severe economic recession in Germany was leading to fewer abortions and divorces, adding that the family offered a safe refuge for many people.
“When the economy falters, the family becomes more important,” she said.