Over the last several decades Germany has had to deal with an imbalance in fertility rates vs the naturally aging population, but new data on the country’s birth rates for 2016 was released on Wednesday and the numbers suggest that Germany could be in the early stages of a much-needed baby boom.
Germany’s fertility rate in 2016 reached a 43-year high with the average number of births per woman jumping to 1.59 — up from 1.5 in 2015. While the rate is still far off from being enough to ensure the population remains steady or even grows as the aging population dies, Germany can celebrate the fact that they haven’t seen the rates this high since 1973.
So why the sudden boom? Some may be quick to point the finger at the high number of refugees who have made Germany their new home, but the data tells a slightly different story.
Out of the roughly 790,000 babies born in 2016 — the most since 1996 — 605,000 babies were born to German natives. Of the remaining 185,000 babies born to foreign mothers in Germany, Turkish woman led the pack with 21,000 births, followed by only 18,000 Syrians. Polish mothers accounted for 12,000 births.
When looking at the percent of growth, however, foreigners do take the lead with a 25 percent increase versus the three percent boost by German nationals.
Instead of the birthrate being credited to foreign or refugee mothers, the actual cause of the increase is being given a more simple explanation.
According to the Federal Statistics Office, there has been a noticeable shift in the age at which woman are deciding to have children. Unlike in the past when most women chose to have their first child before the age of 30, today’s German women are pushing it off to between the ages of 30 and 37. It’s believed that these women have decided to hold off on having children until their economic conditions and government incentives reached a safe level.
Before Germany can be in the clear though, the rate will need to be much higher to fight off the looming issue of not having enough working-age Germans to support the growing number of retirees with their pension contributions.