Germany's birth rate is rising again

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Young women have more children

According to a study by the Max Planck Institute in Rostock, young women in Germany have more children than older people. Accordingly, there is currently a demographic turnaround in the birth rate. According to the researchers, the parental allowance and the expansion of kindergartens could actually contribute to increasing the German birth rate despite previous claims. However, there is no scientific proof for the thesis, since a significant increase can also be observed in the other EU countries.

Young women have more children
On average, young women in Germany have more children than older people did. This was the result of a demographic study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock. The study authors explained that the results show a trend reversal "for the birth cohorts around 1970". Women who were born before 1970 and are now 40 years old statistically have 1.5 or 1.6 children. Women who were born after this are likely to have more children, as the research team led by Joshua Goldstein and Michaela Kreyenfeld explained in the journal "Population and Development Review". The scientists are the first in their field to find a reversal in the birth rate trend in Germany. The team suspects that the U-turn should be seen in the context of a changed family policy. "The trend reversal in final birth rates could be related to changes in younger family policies," said Goldstein. Women who gave birth in the early 1960s had significantly fewer children. From the mid-70s onwards, however, the number of children rose again, according to Goldstein.

The parental allowance that was introduced in 2007 and the start of the expansion of the kindergartens in 2008 have now produced the first positive effects. Until now, statisticians and critics had assumed that the family policy of the former Federal Minister for Family Affairs Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) would not work. For this reason, several politicians had called for the abolition of parental allowance so that it is not actually a social benefit because the parental allowance is calculated based on the income. According to the scientists, a slight demographic trend can now be observed. The investigations relate to statistical evaluations of the data from the official birth statistics. Although mothers have their children later and later because many initially take care of their education and career opportunities, the trend of the past few years towards fewer babies has not continued.

No exact data situation
However, the researchers were unable to provide more precise measurement data. With older women, one can determine exactly how many children they have given birth to so far. However, the younger the women are, the more difficult it is to capture the calculations exactly, as the researchers emphasized. But: “A trend reversal is very likely,” says Goldstein. "This is an estimate," emphasizes Michaela Kreyenfeld. This value is consumed because women always have children later. If the distortion is calculated out, you get a higher birth rate. Based on the calculations, the researchers used time series that showed the age and births of the first, second and third children of women. The value is calculated on an annual basis to show the current birth behavior. The real birth behavior can only be calculated when all the final data have been collected.

In 2008, the mothers were on average 27.5 years old when they gave birth to their first child in East Germany and 28.7 years in the West. 11 years ago, women were 1.4 and 1.3 years younger at first birth. The previous evaluations of East and West Germany had previously been based on older surveys. In East Germany, the birth rate was 1.46. The daycare network, which was already well developed in the GDR, dominated here. In addition, families in the new federal states have a much easier time finding a place in kindergarten because the proportion of families moving to the west is increasing in contrast to the childcare offer. To date, the rate in the west has been 1.39.

Relationship between parental allowance and birth rate not proven
The connection between family policy or trend reversal is not fully proven. The researchers also point to this. It can also be observed in other European countries that women of younger births have more children. It is likely that benefits such as parental allowance are unknown in the other EU countries. Therefore, a demographic turnaround can be seen, but a clear connection is only a guess. (sb)

Also read:
The proportion of fathers in parental allowance is increasing
Population in Germany is falling slightly

Image: Matthias Hübner /

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