Population free-fall continues

Germany's demographic crisis shows no sign of abating, with a new prognosis out that predicts the country's population will fall by 12 million over the next four decades.

Population free-fall continues
As Germany's population shrinks, it will age. Photo: DPA

In 2050, according to the Swiss research institute Prognos, Germany will have a population of 70.1 million, compared to 82.1 million today, reported the news magazine Focus.

The prognosis for Germany, with its low birthrate (1.4 children per woman on average) and increasing life expectancy (79.26 years), is a rapidly aging society, which brings along its own set of problems.

The number of people between the ages of 20 and 64 is expected to fall from just under 50 million today to 43.5 million by 2030. The number of people under 19 will shrink from 15.3 million in 2009 to 12.9 million in 2035. The average age in Germany in 2060 will be 49.3.

The predicted demographic developments will “dramatically increase” the problems already facing Germany’s current model for financing its social system, according to Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development.

The current system depends on working people paying into social welfare funds that support pension plans for retirees and welfare payments. As the number of retirees increases and the pool of employed people shrinks, the social services and pension coffers start emptying out.

Even if individual German women suddenly began having more babies, the absolute number of newborns will continue to sink, Klingholz said, since there will be fewer women of child-bearing age overall.

Providing a little cold comfort, he added that Germany and Europe are not alone with their demographic woes. A coming wave of retirees might well be expected in Europe, he said, but China can expect a “retiree tsunami.”

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