Mini baby boom continues with 33-year birthrate high

Germany’s birthrate has increased to over 1.5 children per woman for the first time in 33 years, as around 738,000 newborns arrived in Germany in 2015.

Mini baby boom continues with 33-year birthrate high
Photo: DPA

Rising from 1.47 to 1.51 babies per woman in 2015, the birthrate is the highest it has been since 1982, and continues a trend that began in 2012, a report by the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) showed on Monday.

In the years prior, the birthrate in Germany had stagnated at one of the lowest levels in the world, leading to gloomy predictions about the future burden on the state of a disproportionately old population.

report by the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) last year showed that Germany had the second oldest population in the world after Japan, reaching a peak average age of 44.1 years in 2013.

The 2015 birthrate increase means that there were 27 more babies born for every 1,000 women than in the previous year. Although a significant increase, it is a slowdown on the rise seen in 2014, when there was an increase of 56 births for every 1,000 women.

The figure of 1.51 children per woman is a prediction based on the birthrate last year in relation to the population of fertile women – defined by Destatis as women between the ages of 15 and 49.

Source: Destatis

Non-Germans having more children

At the end of last year, Dr. Corinna Onnen from the German Society for Sociology told The Local that the rise in the birthrate was a “blip” and that it wasn’t sustainable.

“Government and industry are patting themselves on the back because they think the measures they have taken to create more family-friendly work conditions are taking effect,” she said. 

“But this isn’t true. Women have children because they want them, not because there are suitable work conditions.”

The new data seems to contradict the sociologist, who predicted that it would not last for any longer than a year.

However, a further breakdown of the statistics in this year’s report may raise questions about the success of the government’s and industry’s incentives and policies.

The birthrate among German citizens only increased from 1.42 to 1.43 children per woman. The real surge was seen among women of other nationalities (from 1.86 to 1.95 children per woman). Immigration has therefore made a large contribution to the rise.

Overall, the birthrate in former East Germany is higher at 1.56 children, compared to 1.50 in the western Bundesländer. The state of Saxony had the highest rate at 1.59 children, whereas the lowest was in Saarland at just 1.38 children per woman.

Last month, before the release of Monday’s report, Martin Bujard from the BiB was much more emphatic about the change

“The decline in birthrate has stopped,” Bujard said.

“On the basis of these numbers, one can even speak of a turning point.” 

Despite this “turning point”, Germany’s population is still set to decline by about 10 million people by 2060, according to Destatis projections. The 2015 birthrate still remains well below the rate of 2.1 children per woman needed to replace people dying.

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These are Germany’s most popular baby names for 2020

New research revealed on Wednesday what the top names for both boys and girls in Germany are - and which names are growing (or falling) in popularity.

These are Germany's most popular baby names for 2020
Photo: DPA

Ben is no longer the most popular first name among newborn boys in Germany.

Noah has overtaken the top spot for the first time in nine years  – but just barely, according to new statistics from name researcher Knud Bielefeld published on Wednesday in Ahrensburg, Schleswig-Holstein.

Trailing only closely behind Noah and Ben, the second place name, is Matteo.

It was a similarly close race with girls' names, Bielefeld told DPA. There, Mia, Emilia and Hannah ranked in first through third place, overtaking Emma – long the favourite girl's name in Germany.

“For me, it was extremely exciting. That was a head-on-head race until the last second,” said Bielefeld.

Bielefeld evaluated the names of about 23 percent of all children born in Germany in 2020.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: German birth rate falls as more women have children later

“If my sample had looked a little different, the name that is now maybe in second or third place would now be in first place,” he said. “There are only minimal differences between them.”

Bielefeld said that several of the top names, such as Emilia and Matteo, had climbed steadily higher in the list of most popular first names in recent years.

“If you want me to predict: I expect Matteo and Emilia to be at number one next year if the upward trend continues like this,” he said.

Emma, Sophia, Lina, Ella, Mila, Clara and Lea landed among the top ten names for girls. Among the boys, Finn, Leon, Elias, Paul, Henry, Luis and Felix made it onto the list.

The most popular middle names in 2020 were Sophia, Marie and Maria, as well as Alexander, Elias and Maximilian.

There were several regional differences in top baby names, though, depicted state by state in the map below using a sample size of 23 percent of all children born in 2020. (Credit: DPA)

International names – above all those from the English-speaking world and Scandinavia – as well as older German names, also ranked highly.

“Emil, Anton, Paul, Emma and Anna – these are older names that we’ve known for a long time,” said Bielefeld.

Gerda has climbed higher every year, and in Saxony in particular, the name Kurt has now also become more and more popular.” 

There was also a large decline in the popularity of the first name Greta. The name, also borne by the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, fell from 30th to 130th place between 2019 and 2020.

“That's really the most remarkable observation I've ever made since these statistics. Such a steep drop,” said Bielefeld.

Of course, parents again gave their children unusual names in 2020. For example, girls were graced with names such as Amore, Divora and Marvelous, while boys were handed over creative choices such as Archibald, Hotte, Rhett and Denver.

According to Bielefeld, these names were all given at least twice in Germany. 

One name, however, did not appear at all: Corona.

Bielefeld and his assistants usually evaluate both the official reports of a city, as well as the photo galleries of birth clinics. Due to the pandemic, however, photographers were less frequent there in 2020.

Instead, significantly more registry offices gave him data related to first names this year, said the expert.

For the statistics, Bielefeld evaluated data from 465 locations, corresponding to about 23 percent of all children born in 2020.

A similar statistic is released each year from the Society for the German Language, which says it uses 90 percent of all data from the registry offices.

In a forecast in mid-December, it had seen Emil and Lena as having the best chances of coming out on top nationwide.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Germany's most popular baby names