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Germany has lowest birth rate in the world, study shows

The results point to a downward trend in the labor force, which could cause Germany to lose its "economic edge." The publishers say that women's participation in the labor market is key to ensuring the country's growth.

Germany has the world's lowest birth rate, according to a new study produced by German auditing firm BDO in partnership with the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

Although Germany has had the lowest birth rate in Europe in recent years, the study alleges that it has now surpassed countries outside the continent.

The study shows that, on average, 8.2 children were born per 1,000 inhabitants over the past five years. In Europe, Portugal and Italy came in second and third with an average of 9.0 and 9.3 children, respectively.

Globally, the study pointed to the African continent for the highest birth rates. The West African country Niger took the top position with 50 children born per 1,000 inhabitants.

Diminishing labor force

Henning Vöpel, director of the HWWI, said that the economic repercussions of having the lowest birth rate in the world could be damaging as Germany's working-age population will shrink from its current 61 percent to 54 percent by 2030.

"This trend has not digressed as much as it has in any other industrialized country as it has in Germany, despite the influx of young immigrant workers," Vöpel said.

Arno Probst, an executive board member of the BDO, said that as a direct consequence, Germany will face higher wage costs due to a shortage in skilled labor.

"Without strong labor markets, Germany cannot maintain its economic edge in the long run," Probst said.

He added that women's participation in Germany's labor force was key in order to ensure the country's economic efficiency.

ls/msh (dpa)

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