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LIVING IN GERMANY

Has Germany seen a pandemic baby boom?

With nothing to do but stay at home for months on end, experts have been predicting a pandemic baby boom. Has this happened in Germany? We looked at the latest figures.

Has Germany seen a pandemic baby boom?
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Strauch

They are called the ‘pandemic babies’ – the little ones born after pregnancies that started during the Covid-19 crisis.

Society predicted a baby boom across the world when many countries ordered residents to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

But has there really been a rush of new arrivals compared to pre-pandemic years? 

What happened in Germany?

Births in the first five months of 2021 are due to pregnancies that began during Germany’s initial lockdown from late March to early May, and in May and the summer months of 2020, when pandemic-related contact restrictions were largely lifted.

According to provisional data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), around 315,000 children were born in Germany from January to May 2021. This is a slight increase of 1.4 percent in the number of births compared with the same period of the previous year – not quite the boom that we were expecting.

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

However, there was a significant rise in the number of births observed in March 2021, where around 3,700 more babies (six percent increase) were born than in March 2020.

In the other months marked by the onset of the Covid pandemic, the trend has been “unremarkable” according to Destatis. 

Source: Graph translated into English by Statista for The Local Germany

Olga Pötzsch, demography expert at the Federal Statistical Office, said experts were “unable to detect any striking changes in the birth rates” from January to May 2021.

“The coronavirus measures and their relaxation in the first half of 2020 do not appear to have had an immediate impact on family planning,” said Pötzsch.

“During the first lockdown and also in the summer months, neither significantly more nor significantly fewer children were conceived than in 2019.”

Why was there a boom in March?

The only striking trend found so far is March 2021 when 65,900 births were registered in Germany – up six percent on the previous year. 

Nine months before, Germany started relaxing the Covid measures after the first lockdown which involved tough contact restrictions. This seems to have prompted some, ahem, celebrations. 

READ ALSO: What’s the advice for sex and dating in Germany during the coronavirus crisis?

“These births are mainly due to pregnancies that started with the flattening of the first Corona wave and with the relaxation of contact restrictions from the beginning of May 2020,” Pötzsch explains.

What about the people becoming parents in Germany?

Key characteristics of parenthood in Germany changed only slightly year-on-year in the first five months of 2021.

For example, 32 percent of parents who had babies during this time were not married, compared with 33 percent in the same period in 2020.

Of all births from January to May 2021, 46 percent was the mother’s first baby, 36 percent was the second, and 18 percent was the third or more.

This is consistent with the composition of births in the same period last year. But the proportion of births to mothers with German citizenship was slightly higher (77 percent) than in the same period in 2020 (75 percent).

So will we see a baby boom representing the relaxation of measures earlier this year? Time will tell. 

READ ALSO: Are more babies being born in Germany amid the pandemic?

Vocabulary 

Birth rate – (die) Geburtenrate

Pregnancy – (die) Schwangerschaft

Parenthood – (die) Elternschaft

Trend/development – (die) Entwicklung 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Do you know any stories of pandemic babies? Let us know.

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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