Despite on-going government efforts to encourage couples to have more children through a combination of financial incentives and guaranteed access to daycare spots, Germany’s rapid demographic decline continues unabated. Newly released data indicate that in 2009, the number of births dropped by 3.6 percent to 651,000, the lowest figure recorded since the end of WWII. While the number of deaths remained virtually constant (842,000), Germany suffered a net decline in its core population (excluding the effects of migration) of about 191,000 people last year.
Just to compare: In 1964, in the wake of the “Wirtschaftswunder” (economic miracle), West Germany alone accounted for more than 1.35 million births, translating into a net population increase of almost 500,000. This baby boom, however, proved to be short-lived. Since 1972, (West) Germany has consistently recorded more deaths than births.
Kristina Schroeder, federal minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, was quick to put a positive spin on the government’s latest bleak demographic statistics. The number of children per woman had actually remained constant, the 32-year old childless minister was eager to point out. Rather, Kristina Schroeder attributed the sharp decline in births in 2009 to a significant drop in the overall number of women of child-bearing age (15-49 years) in Germany. In fact, over the past four years, that group of “potential mothers” shrank by roughly half a million.
At the same time, it is important to recognize that the number of babies where at least one parent is a foreign national has increased in recent years. Today, around 25 percent of all babies born in Germany already fall into that category (in comparison, foreigners make up roughly 10 percent of Germany’s 82-million inhabitants).
Furthermore, the ghettoization and creation of “parallel societies” – above all by Muslim immigrants from Turkey, Lebanon, etc. – is bound to accelerate. According to Chancellor Merkel’s integration czar, CDU State Minister Maria Boehmer, more than 50 percent of all migrant children in Germany go to kindergartens where the share of non-Germans is 60 percent or more. Given these striking quantitative disparities, the hoped-for linguistic and cultural integration let alone assimilation of migrants into German society is bound to fail – with potentially devastating social, political, and also economic repercussions down the road.