Ed Driscoll

Es ist die Demographie, Dummkopf

Der Spiegel blows the lid off one of the big stories of 2006:

Germany is already facing a demographic nightmare as birth rates fall despite a slew of family-friendly policies. Now, new statistics show that more people are leaving the country than immigrating — adding to concerns about the country’s shrinking population.

Germans fretting about the country’s looming demographic problems are unlikely to have been cheered by recent news on birth rates and emigration. With its graying population, the country’s cradle-to-grave welfare system could become unaffordable due to a dearth of working-age people to keep the system going. And the country seems to be failing to either attract enough immigrants or produce babies fast enough to dispel fears of future demographic disaster.

Only two weeks ago, hopes of a government-created baby boom were dashed by the latest birth rate figures. The Federal Statistics Office revealed that despite heavy investment in maternity and paternity pay and other family-friendly policies, the birth rate was actually declining in Germany, with 651,000 children born in 2009, fully 30,000 less than in 2008.

With an average of just 1.38 children being born to each woman, the birth rate is not high enough to keep the population stable. The aging country will find it hard to secure the tax revenues to support all those pensioners of the future or to maintain economic growth. In fact, demographers expect Germany’s population to fall by 17 million from the current 82 million over the next 50 years.

Wow, good thing Der Spiegel got to this story before somebody in North America stumbled over it.