Germans had fewer babies than ever before, according to the latest government statistics. Researchers expect the birth rate to continue to drop for years to come.
In 2011, Germany's birth rate dropped 2.2 percent to 663,000 babies, the fewest the country has ever experienced, the Federal Statistical Office said in a press release on Monday. The death rate also decreased in 2011 to 852,359, or 0.7 percent less than in 2010.
There's, "no reason to worry," demography expert Gerd Bosbach told the dapd news agency. He pointed to Germany's high population density, which ranks fourth in the world. "If we fall to number six or seven, that still wouldn't be a reason for worry."
The report also published new statistics on marriages. Only 378,000 people married in 2011, compared to 382,000 in 2010.
More people dying than being born
The birth rate in Germany has been dropping for the past four decades, but 2011 saw the widest gap between the number of deaths and the number of births, with 189,647 more people dying last year than were born.
The last year that the birth rate exceeded the death rate was 1971, which saw a ratio of 1.01 million to 965,000. That difference was significantly lower than in 1964 when the birth rate overshot the death rate by 487,000.
Despite the lower birth rate, Germany's population increased last year due to a high number of immigrants entering the country, primarily from eastern Europe.
Monday's report reflected the preliminary results of data from 2011. The federal office is due to publish the final statistics in August.
kms/pfd (KNA, dapd, epd)