Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Germany Dying Out

Germany's birth rate is less than its death rate.

New figures show that there were 651,000 babies born in Germany in 2009--a drop of 30,000 from the previous year. In 2009 for every thousand people 10 died and only 8.2 babies were born to replace them. In 2008 the birth rate was 9.3 per thousand--which means there has been more than a 10% drop in the birthrate per thousand people.

Currently Germany has the lowest birth rate in Europe and one of the lowest in the world. Only Japan has a worse birth rate.
On a European scale, Germany has the lowest birthrate, and on a global scale it is almost as bad. Of 27 countries with populations in excess of 40 million, Germany ranks second from bottom in terms of children under 15 as a percentage of the overall population. Japan is bottom with 13%, followed by Germany with 13.6%, and Italy with 14%. At 45%, Ethiopia has the highest portion of youth population.
This is not only a demographic problem. It is also a major problem for Germany's economy. There aren't enough young Germans being born to sustain the current social welfare state.
Politicians have long been forced to improve the birthrate or face the problem of Germany having insufficient workers and taxpayers to support a population which, like much of Europe, is ageing faster than at any time in history.
Mark Steyn* explains the problem in clear economic terms using Greece as the example:
In America, the feckless insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they've reached the next stage in social democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1, or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: 10 grandparents have six kids have four grandkids - i.e., the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 "lowest-low" fertility - the point from which no society has ever recovered. And compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can't borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don't have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when 10 grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?
There is the possibility of more immigration, but since no skilled labor immigrants are banging at the gates asking for entry, Germany's economy and lifestyle are bound to plummet--along with its social welfare complex.

*Steyn's America Alone treats the declining population problem in depth

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