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.
A 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.
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.