Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany has halted a three-decade-long decline in its birth rate, with data showing that the trend has started to reverse, statisticians said Friday (Sept 23).

Over the last 35 years Europe's biggest economy had recorded a steady fall in birth rate, which reached a low of 1.49 child for each woman born in the year 1968, said the Federal Institute for Population Research.

But women born in the subsequent years are having more children, bringing the birth rate to 1.56 for mothers born in 1973.

"The decline in birth rate has stopped," said Martin Bujard, a researcher at the institute.

"On the basis of these numbers, one can even speak of a turning point," he said, noting that improved childcare options likely contributed to the upswing.

Despite the turnaround, Germany's birth rate remains below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.

The country's low birth rate has contributed to shaping much of the European economic giant's policies, including questions surrounding state indebtedness and pensions.

The government has always preached austerity as politicians argue that it would be irresponsible to leave shrinking future generations to shoulder ever-rising burdens of debt.

In recent years, Germany has also rolled out new policies to reverse the low birth trend, including expanding nursery spots and creating incentives for fathers to take parental leave.

Germany's population is set to decline by about 10 million people by 2060, according to projections published last April.

Federal statistics office Destatis said Germany was expected to have between 68 and 73 million inhabitants by 2060, compared to its current 81 million.